With Australia falling into recession during 2020 for the first time in nearly 30 years, it's essential for Australians to consciously plan how to do their part for the economy. Business owners have many opportunities to boost the economy — which in turn will boost their own business.
Outlook for Australian Economy
While Australia is technically out of the recession it fell into during 2020, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 certainly make it feel like a recession for many. The March 2021 quarter saw GDP growth of 1.9 per cent, while the June quarter experienced growth of 0.7 per cent.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data for September 2021 shows the unemployment rate has worsened for the first time in nearly a year. The rate rose from 4.5 per cent to 4.6 per cent — meaning there are 626,000 unemployed Australians. With lockdowns easing across the nation, Australia now moves into the recovery phase.
How to Boost the Economy
While Australia's economic outlook is comparatively bright for the next couple of years, there are steps your business can take to help boost the economy during the recovery phase.
Stay in business
While the ongoing restrictions and flow-on effects have been brutal for so many industries, as vaccination rates steadily rise, we're moving toward a world where lockdowns are a thing of the past.
The last couple of years have been an extremely risky time to be in business, but running a small business is one of the best ways you can contribute to your local economy.
Small businesses create employment opportunities, offer relevant services to the local community and can even boost the real estate market. Owning a business that's in high demand helps improve people's lives — both employees and consumers — and can make your local community a more attractive place to live.
Access the local labour market
With many businesses being forced into remote work where possible, it's now easier than ever to work from home. Where businesses were traditionally made up of employees in close proximity, suddenly it's possible to hire staff from anywhere in the world — within reason, obviously, it's not possible to hire a truck driver in the US to virtually drive trucks in Australia.
While this significantly opens up the pool of potential candidates, it means that money is being transferred from your location to wherever the employee is located. If they happen to be overseas, you're helping to boost their economy instead of your own.
This doesn't exclusively apply to employees. If you outsource services such as bookkeeping, marketing, HR or admin, see if you can find locals to outsource these tasks to.
If you order stock or equipment from overseas or even interstate, you've probably noticed significant disruptions to the supply chain. Finding suppliers closer to home can help avoid this problem, but it also helps to keep the local economy thriving.
When you buy from overseas, you're sending Australian dollars into another country. Sure, the products might be cheaper to purchase offshore, but it comes at a cost in times of economic uncertainty. When you spend your Australian dollars with local suppliers, you help financially stimulate your community — and the Australian economy!
When choosing local suppliers, be sure to check the structure of the organisation. Large, publicly listed companies may be owned by investors all over the globe. Just because a business physically exists in your area doesn't mean the owners are part of your local economy.
Use small banks and credit unions
Small banks (often state-specific banks) and credit unions often make it a part of their mission to support the local community. By banking with these institutions, you're helping support that mission.
Community lotteries, initiatives, grants, support and educational resources are often undertaken by credit unions to help communities grow and thrive.
Share your skills
Sharing your skills in a paid capacity can enhance your customers' lives, but if you have skills you could share for free, this could work to strengthen your whole community.
You might need to get creative with this one depending on your skillset. For example, if you have strong managerial skills, you could share tips in local news outlets, webinars or community groups, likewise for any hands-on skills.
When everyone comes together to collaborate and share skills, the community is strengthened, allowing for additional growth of the economy and your business.