Sacrifices Aussie small businesses make

by Angus Jones
  • Top sacrifices made by small businesses include reducing the number of takeaways (62%), dipping into savings (60%) and cutting back on key grocery items (50%)
  • 5.4 – the astounding average equivalent job roles a small business owner completes themselves
  • Almost half (45%) of small business owners identify as SOOs (Sole Owner Operators)
  • 71% believe their sacrifices have been worth it or will pay off in the long run

More than 1.1 million Australian small business owners have made significant sacrifices in the past year to keep their business afloat. Cutting back on small pleasures like takeaway (62%), dipping into hard-earned savings (60%) and scrimping to reduce utility bills (48%) are all steps these small business owners have taken in the past year to keep their dreams alive. Commissioned by Vistaprint, the national survey delves into the reality of life on the hustle during the tough pandemic year and shows that while the majority of small business champions have been doing it tough, most (71%) believe the personal sacrifices made have been worth it or will pay off in the long run. 

According to the research, around two in five (38%) small business owners who have made significant sacrifices have taken on additional work. In comparison, one in five (18%) borrowed a significant amount of money from a friend or family member. In addition, some small business owners have made significant life choices by re-mortgaging their house (5%) or putting off having kids (5%).

Speaking about the Vistaprint Small Business Recovery Report, TV presenter, author and small business founder of SWIISH, Sally Obermeder, said: “The past 12 months have been like no other for small business owners Australia-wide, and Vistaprint’s research certainly reveals the grit, determination and support entrepreneurs need to thrive. It’s great to see also that in spite of all the challenges these COVID-19 times have thrown at us, more than half (52%) of entrepreneurs would still encourage other aspiring business owners to give it a crack. 

“Personally, I’ve had to rapidly adapt and alter several aspects of my own business in order to keep it moving forward, and essentially be ready for anything – wearing lots of hats and staying nimble. 

“Vistaprint’s report shows that small business owners are now regularly fulfilling 5.4 job roles to drive forward their company – from Customer Service and Sales, to Finance Management, Planning & Strategy and Marketing. And over a third (38%) have upskilled to keep their business going. This is certainly something I can relate to, but I’ve learned it’s also important to seek support where you have skill-set gaps and work with partners to achieve your potential.”

Almost half (45%) of small business owners surveyed identified as “SOOs”, a new term coined for sole owner operators. Another popular term was Owntrepreneur (30%), a hybrid term which lends itself to the responsibility, flexibility and all-encompassing nature of being a small business owner.

With a third (32%) of respondents highlighting marketing as one of their biggest challenges in the past year, a third (33%) noting financial support as a main struggle, and one in 10 (10%) calling out design as their key pain point, Vistaprint is launching 99 days of design – a global initiative to empower 99 small businesses around the world with financial support and refreshed design identities on the heels of a challenging year. 

Within Australia, six businesses will be selected to each receive a refreshed brand identity and marketing materials, as well as a $15,000 AUD financial donation to help their business be ready for anything during this unprecedented time of change.

“We know how powerful great design can be in fueling success for small business owners but our research shows it is often an area small Aussie businesses struggle with,” Vistaprint Australia CEO Marcus Marchant said. “Matching entrepreneurs with the right creative talent is where the magic happens when it comes to building a brand and growing a business. Through 99 days of design, we’re excited to support businesses in this space and help them on their road to recovery, sharing these stories of global creative connection and collaboration with the world.”

Small business nominations will be open from 15th June and close at midnight (AEST) on 25th June 2021. A panel including Vistaprint CEO Marcus Marchant, 99designs by Vistaprint CEO Patrick Llewellyn, alongside entrepreneurs Twice Blessed and artist Rachael Sarra will help select the six successful businesses. Those wanting to get involved can nominate themselves or be nominated by someone else via

Top 10 Sacrifices made by small business owners who made sacrifices in the past year:

  1. Cut back on dining out/buying takeaway food and coffees (62%)
  2. Dipped in Savings (60%)
  3. Cut back or stopped buying expensive snacks and drinks in our grocery shopping (50%)
  4. Made a conscious effort to reduce use of electricity/gas to save on utility bills (e.g. used appliances during off-peak times, reduced/stopped using heater/air-conditioner/clothes dryer) (48%)
  5. Gave up entertainment and shopping subscriptions (40%)
  6. Taken on additional work (38%)
  7. Started making meal plans and changing the way we shop for food to reduce food wastage (38%)
  8. Borrowed a significant amount of money from a friend or family member (18%)
  9. Gave no Christmas or Birthday presents to whole year (16%)
  10. Put off wedding, large birthday party or similar big event (14%)

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