The COVID-19 crisis has shaken us all up.
We’ve had to adapt to a topsy-turvy world where we rarely venture out of our own backyards, where working from home is the new norm and brunch dates with friends are a distant memory.
It isn’t easy, but we’re making it work.
For small business owners though, the weight has been heavier as they’ve helplessly watched their livelihoods – their passions – trickle to a halt.
Sarah Reynolds is the director of The Resort Store, a women’s clothing boutique in Brighton, 10 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.
The impact of the pandemic was swift, with her store closing as soon as lockdown was announced on March 23.
“Revenue dropped like a stone, but I had just taken delivery of all my winter stock,” Sarah tells Mamamia. “Suppliers were waiting to be paid.”
The only sales channel left was online, so putting herself in front of the camera via social media was the only way Sarah could stay in touch with shoppers – even though it was “way out” of this businesswoman’s comfort zone.
“I have always got my energy from interacting with customers in-store, and initially was really missing that,” she says.
“There’s been a couple of days when I’ve felt very ‘blah’ and couldn’t bring the right energy to film a video, but I allowed myself that break, sometimes confessing it on my socials.
“There’s financial stress, but without all the support and encouragement from my customer community, it might have got the better of me.”
As businesses start to reopen, there’s one lesson many small business owners like Sarah will carry forward as they step into the next stage: mental health is everyone’s business.
New research from business platform MYOB reveals two thirds (66 per cent) of small businesses feel COVID-19 has impacted their mental wellbeing, with 58 per cent revealing the pandemic has negatively impacted their business.
The research, conducted with more than 1200 small business owners and operators, has been released by MYOB to coincide with the launch of their partnership with leading Australian not-for-profit in the preventative mental health space, Smiling Mind.
In partnership, MYOB and Smiling Mind have produced a free small business program within the Smiling Mind app, with four dedicated modules – Mindfulness Foundations, Stress Management, Relationships and Resilience, designed to help small business owners take proactive steps to manage the stressors and challenges they regularly face.