Realistic but confident, Aussie businesses rise to the post-COVID challenge

  • Written by Shopify

A third of small business owners surveyed by Shopify plan to start a new one by year-end

SYDNEY, Australia - 12 JULY, 2021: Survey data from Shopify Inc., a leading global commerce company, shows almost half (46%) of Australia’s small business owners are only ‘somewhat’ confident of their business thriving in a post-COVID 19 world. A further 8% are ‘not at all’ confident their business will thrive.

However, in spite of this low morale, a third (31%) of Australian small business owners are planning on starting a new business in 2021, showing the entrepreneurial spirit of Australian business owners is well and truly alive.


In survey data collected in May 2021, before the most recent lockdowns in Sydney, Perth and Darwin, small business owners shared their key challenges in the previous 12 months, and their plans for the future.

Cash flow and profitability was identified as the main challenge, selected by 36% of respondents, followed by social distancing restrictions and lock down laws at 35%.

JobKeeper ranked poorly when it came to aiding business survival. When asked to identify the initiatives that most helped them get through the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia, almost double the number of respondents pointed to their personal ‘grit, determination and resilience,’ than JobKeeper.

41% of respondents attributed their survival to their personal skills, and only 22% acknowledged JobKeeper as the initiative that most helped them survive.

More key findings from the survey include:

*    More than half (56%) of small business owners in Australia are ‘solopreneurs’, operating as a one person operation

*    Asked to identify their priorities over the next 6-12 months, the most popular response was ‘building customer loyalty’ (40%)

*    One in five small businesses (20%) had to cut down on expenses, including letting go of staff, between May 2020 and May 2021

Amy Zhu, co-owner of Sydney-based luxury leather jewellery store
Doury, credits being fully set up with an online store as key to maintaining business success throughout 2020 and early 2021.

“As a small business owner, if you weren’t already online or prepared to go online, it would have been hard to survive,” Zhu said. “I was lucky to already be online, and did a quick website revamp which only took one week. Other businesses that previously operated in the live space, such as market stalls, who tried to go online from scratch often had a difficult time.”

Shaun Broughton, Managing Director of APAC for Shopify, says the survey results reflect the current entrepreneurial economy sweeping Australia.

“Australians have proven time and time again that they find inventive ways to prevail in times of struggle and uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has been no exception. Australian small business owners are keeping their entrepreneurial spirit alive through starting new businesses this year. The fact they elected their personal grit, determination and resilience as the top survival method is further proof Australian small business owners have what it takes to make it on top and are invaluable assets to our economy,” he said.


About Shopify

Shopify is a leading global commerce company, providing trusted tools to start, grow, market, and manage a retail business of any size. Shopify makes commerce better for everyone with a platform and services that are engineered for reliability, while delivering a better shopping experience for consumers everywhere. Shopify powers over 1.7 million businesses in more than 175 countries and is trusted by brands such as Allbirds, Gymshark, Heinz, Staples Canada, and many more. For more information, visit   


Research methodology: PureProfile, on behalf of Shopify, surveyed 502 Australians and 250 New Zealanders who identify as small business owners in May 2021, to understand the makeup of ANZ small businesses: who runs them and why, how big are they — and how they were challenged by COVID-19. 


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