The year-long wage subsidy supported over one million Australian businesses and carried many that otherwise would have closed during the COVID-19 lockdowns in 2020.
As early as November last year, research by the Reserve Bank of Australia showed the temporary payment had already helped to reduce total job losses by at least 700,000.
Will the end of JobKeeper mean massive job losses?
As small businesses adjust to standing on their own feet without this government support, some economists are optimistic about their chances. Yet there remains significant cause for concern. Commentators estimate that as many as 150,000 workers are expected to lose their jobs as a result of the program ending.
The good news, however, is that “just because JobKeeper has come to an end does not mean the government’s support has,” according to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. One area where government support could produce a high return on investment for government and business alike is digitisation.
Why digital tech could be the answer
Australian small businesses have typically lagged with their implementation of technology. A recent survey from CPA Australia found that our small businesses were least likely to invest in digitisation in 2020, out of 11 countries surveyed. Australian small businesses have also struggled disproportionately with cash flow, making it harder yet to invest heavily in bringing in new digital processes.
So why is digitisation so important? The digitisation of key functions like finance can streamline processes for small business owners, freeing them up to focus on priorities like business growth. Critically, it can provide them with a more accurate and effective view of their business’ financial position. The more knowledge a business owner has of this, the more chance they have to succeed – it’s a big part of why Intuit developed Quickbooks Cash Flow Planner to put the power back into the hands of the small business owners and gain control over their cash flow.
Time for the government and tech sector to step up
As JobKeeper finishes up, software providers also need to be allies of the small business sector to assist them in moving towards digitisation. Several, including Intuit Quickbooks, have already started to do so through the Victorian state government’s Small Business Digital Adaptation Program, which offers a rebate of up to $1,200 for businesses that implement digital technologies. This is an excellent example of a scheme for others to replicate that rewards those that look to help themselves through digitisation.
As we enter the next phase of our pandemic recovery prioritising small business digitisation will be critical to ensuring they grow stronger and even more resilient. Now’s the time for the government and the tech sector to step up and continue supporting our small business owners to digitally transform their processes and take these important steps to help themselves prepare for a prosperous future.