Who would start a small business during lockdown? These defy the restrictions

Who would start a new business during a COVID lockdown when customer access is severely restricted and business confidence plummets?

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), released last week, show that many people have given up looking for work during the shutdowns, with the turnout dropping between June and July from 0.2% to 66%.

It comes after separate figures from Business NSW earlier this month showed a 48% drop in average earnings in the state two weeks after the July 2021 lockdown.

So who would be stupid enough to start a business now, right?

Luke Maitland worked for a nursery before deciding to go out on his own to set up a nursery and landscaping studio employing around five people, based in Robertson in the southern highlands.

He opened Native Grace in 2020 during the first wave of the lockdown, but felt helped by the nature of his business targeting a specific market at a time when people are actually spending more time gardening and renovating.

“We are really a niche market, we provide a niche for people,” he said.

“With the current restrictions in place, the nursery is definitely hit,” he said, but most importantly, since it is an outdoor business, he was able to get some customers through the doors. while others click and collect.

Kelly Groves and her son who inspired the Kyron and Co Collective business.(

Provided: Kelly Groves

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Providing niche specialty products online is also key to the early success of Kyron and Co Collective, a baby fashion and accessories business run from home by Kiama’s mother, Kelly Groves.

His son Kyron was born diagnosed with rare neonatal kidney disease, neonatal renal venous thrombosis, so his ability to work from home as well as source a unique range of clothing suitable for his child became the motivation to start a business. .

“My background is health and fitness,” said the performing arts and dance teacher.

“So I thought ‘how can I put my love for everything under one roof and put it all together into something that is going to make a difference?'”

Ms Groves started with a handful of products based on premature babies, researching her market extensively before deciding to take the plunge.

“At first it was really difficult for me. I had never had a child before – I had a stepson and I raised him too – but to have a child of my own and decide when COVID to start a business was a crazy idea, but it was also exciting, ”she said.

Her most important asset was self-confidence.

Business confidence is the key

Business Illawarra Executive Director Adam Zarth knows better than anyone the tough economic conditions facing small businesses today, but remains optimistic about the ability of well-targeted businesses to succeed if key lessons are followed.

“Also consider where you will be recruiting staff, who are currently hard to come by in key sectors of Illawarra’s economy.”

The challenges are particularly difficult for the hardest hit industries, namely hospitality, arts, events and tourism.

For Zarth, the message remains to proceed with caution and hope that the blockages will be lifted as soon as possible.

“While the existence of vaccines and the ongoing rollout keep business confidence higher than it was last year, we expect these numbers to drop significantly as the lockdown continues.” , did he declare.

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