How small businesses respond to COVID-19 pandemic


Background and objectives

Small businesses in Australia have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with 63% reporting a significant reduction in revenue and demand resulting from the country’s lockdown measures. While state and territory responses have varied, the COVID-19 crisis has presented small business with a distinct challenge, a challenge which calls for alternative solutions for survival.

While often cited as attributes of small business (but seldom studied in depth), innovation, flexibility, and agility are likely to be the key factors that will allow small businesses to effectively adapt to changes in demand and needs – to pursue new opportunities – arising from this uncertain and volatile environment.

Our project will explore the strategic, innovative, dynamic capabilities that Australian small businesses are utilising in their responses to COVID-19. This will encourage us to adopt a dynamic research approach ourselves – a perspective that is paramount in studying an issue that continues to emerge and evolve around us. It is also a perspective that will allow us to feed our insights back to the small business community – specifically the effectiveness of their new-found opportunities and developed mitigation strategies against COVID-19.

Research design

The project uses online surveys, as well as interviews to gain both depth and breadth. We are partnering with the Small Enterprise Associations of Australia and New Zealand, as well as the Small Business Mentoring Service, to ensure that the practical, and policy implications of this study are widely disseminated.

Potential policy implications

The outcomes of this research will inform small businesses on the effective mitigation and risk management strategies that can help navigate the impacts of this pandemic and implement successful recovery plan. In a broader sense, this project can be used to establish a knowledge base for building resilience and developing practical tools to assist small businesses in facing future potential volatility and uncertainty in the environment, whether they are caused by a pandemic or other source.