The pandemic has seen businesses across all industries have to think on their feet.
Restaurants pivoted to takeaway, doctors shifted to telehealth, mobile exercise apps replaced the gym, and thousands of retailers took part in the ecommerce boom. Among all the changes, there were also new joiners to the business landscape, with new business registrations rising 19% throughout 2020. Excitingly, even more are planning to join or expand their business footprint this year.
According to Shopify’s latest survey among small business owners and entrepreneurs in Australia, almost a third (31%) are planning on starting a new business this year. This ambition, while being an exciting sign of optimism in the economy, sits alongside a rational and realistic view of the future of business amid an ongoing pandemic with almost half (46%) being only ‘somewhat’ confident of their business thriving in a post-COVID 19 world.
As the pandemic continues to throw spanners into the works of businesses’ constantly shifting plans, it is fascinating to see how the landscape in itself is shifting to welcome more entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial mindsets.
Solopreneurs and side hustles are being normalised
Of the Australian businesses we surveyed, more than half (56%) were solopreneurs – i.e. businesses operating as a one-person regime. Furthermore, a quarter of Australians consider their small business to be their ‘side hustle’ and not their primary income stream.
From these stats we can see that the stereotypical image of entrepreneurship being a couple of teenagers in a garage dropping out of school and work to throw their whole lives into a single idea are far from our reality. Australian innovators are taking an ambitious yet pragmatic approach to bringing their ideas to life. Unafraid to start something on their own, many are taking opportunities to test and grow their ideas while sustaining a consistent income, and having a side business is simply becoming a part of their life rather than replacing it.
Entrepreneurs are building their own platforms for independence and freedom
The pandemic has paid a serious toll on all of our mental health, particularly for young people who were also impacted by increased employment challenges. This could potentially be why more than anything else – including to make more money – independence was the top reason people elected to start a small business in the first place. 41% of Australian small business owners also ranked personal grit, determination and resilience as the key reason for surviving the pandemic, almost twice as much as JobKeeper, which was nominated by 22%.
During a time when Australians are still restricted by where they can go and how they can live and do business, many business owners are taking the opportunity to create their own spaces for independence rather than completely give in to the limited options forced upon them. Australian entrepreneurs have proven to be agile and willing to think outside the box, while also having a drive to live life on their own terms whatever their circumstances may be, including 10% of small business owners that embarked on this journey for reasons related to parenthood.
Joining this rapidly evolving and growing ecosystem of entrepreneurs in Australia is not only an enthralling way to redefine what ‘work’ could look like, it is proving to be one of the most critical ways to stay in touch with how customers and brands are shifting the nature of supply and demand throughout the pandemic. More than merely jumping on the bandwagon of starting a side hustle for the sake of it, local entrepreneurs are proving how simple ideas, simple technology, and simple data insights can unleash completely new revenue streams in untapped markets. If there was ever a time to test an idea or flex an entrepreneurial muscle, it’s now, and Australians haven’t missed a beat.