Today I was really upset to learn that one of my lovely Australian Made suppliers has ceased trading because of the difficult conditions in managing a small business in the current environment.
I feel privileged to work with great suppliers that are passionate about their trade and putting money back into the Australian economy. And when one fails I feel I’ve failed as well.
Yes, it’s hard being a small business owner but there is a lot of pride and joy in seeing your business flourish and knowing that you are championing other businesses and hopefully the products that you sell are putting smiles on peoples faces when they are delivered (after some of the struggles we’ve discussed before about postal service challenges!).
I specialise in selling Australian Made products because I love the creativity that Australia has to offer and sometimes you just want to give a gift from “home”. It might be Aussie themed or you just know it was made in an Aussie environment – it has an essence of Australia in its bones.
When I visit trade fairs I get frustrated at all the Australian themed products that are sold with cockatoos, city themes, aboriginal designs etc. that aren’t made in Australia. There is such a fantastic array of Australian themed Aussie made stuff available but we can’t compete with big business and as a community we get lost in the definition of what is “Australian Made” rather that thinking about what processes may have gone into the creation of a product.
The fact is in this global world, countries just can't produce everything. But we should be able to recognize and support businesses that do more than just design products. To me “designed in Australia” is a dirty phrase. At least if something was designed and printed in Australia it might not be officially Australian Made but there were more ”hands” involved in developing that product.
There are lots of examples I could provide but to put it simply the Green and Gold Kangaroo labels are great but businesses still need to pay to use these. Some small businesses can’t justify the cost and get excluded as a result, or sometimes that essence of Australia in the product just isn’t enough for it to be recognized. But frankly a bit of blood sweat & tears is better than none.
So I’m a bit sad today, but I am also more determined to keep pushing ahead with the challenges of being an Australian Made small business. I don’t have big marketing budgets, big budgets for stock investment, cash flows helped by bank lending or government grants. But I can keep plugging away at sharing the Bits of Australia we love and making some noise about some of the challenges out there.