13 October 2020


Author Michael Brennan

“Small business owners are the epitome of ‘all in’ operators.  Most don’t have a safety net. They are playing for keeps and they know it.”

Today I got a much-needed reminder on why I love being an advisor to small business, on why I am so passionate about everything to do with my job and why I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to what I do.

I am part of an informal group of business owners that meet once a month for breakfast to discuss what is happening in the City.  We usually get a guest speaker to update us on some issue of topical interest at the time. Today was the first meeting since February, since COVID.

Rather than a guest speaker, we decided to go around the room and decompress our good, bad and ugly from COVID.

What happened next was unexpected in some respects.  Each story was about the initial fear that each business owner felt as restrictions were imposed, the fear for their staff, the fear for how they would keep going in such uncertainty.  Each story then progressed on to how they set about accepting the reality they were faced with and what they did to not only survive, but to come out now in a much better space ready to face a post COVID world.

I was so incredibly proud and privileged to part of a group of people who without knowing that they were doing it, exemplified the very essence of Australian small business.  The constant narrative of tenacity, resilience and dogged determination to get through COVID was the most positive and modest story of ability, capacity and skill I have heard in a very long time.

Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of views on border restrictions, the media and the flow on effect of government responses, but the underlying theme was, despite everything, they will survive.

Small business owners are the epitome of ‘all in’ operators.  Most don’t have a safety net. They are playing for keeps and they know it.  I have been blessed in my career to work almost predominantly in small business in North Queensland.  I am sure it is a bit parochial, but I think that North Qld small business operators take the small business spirit and jack it up like a Chinese swimmer on steroids.

The tyranny of distance means that regional operators just do more with less and they don’t even realise it.  They don’t have the staffing pool of large metro areas.  They have longer and more fragile supply chains and in some respects, legislation for business is against them because out of necessity, it is designed for operations in the large population centres.  Yet they survive, they MacGyver the crap out it and in most cases thrive!

To my peers in the business forum today, take a huge bow I am incredibly proud to be counted amongst you. To the rest of small business owners, not only in North Qld but the nation – you are my spirit animal.

About the Author:

Michael Brennan is one of the Principals at Offermans.  Michael has spent the past 20 years as a restructuring  and Insolvency advisor to micro, small and medium businesses.   Michael is a member of ARITA and the Qld Law Society and sits on the Qld Division of the the State Committee of ARITA and is in his third term as a Councilor on the QLS.