I was full of optimism for 2020. I’d wrapt up my first business – which wasn’t making me jump out of bed in the morning – to go all in with OAK. I was ready to level up and had enrolled in a mentoring program with Lisa Messenger. I was feeling confident about cash flow with several social media face to face workshops and mentoring sessions booked.
Then the world was hit with something we never imagined would happen in our lifetime – COVID-19. The virus and the mandated shut downs across the world took a toll on small businesses.
I was numb for a few days after the first lockdown began, and it took time to settle into the bubble I share with my husband and four kids. My in-person workshops were cancelled. JobKeeper was beyond my brain capacity. And the magazine was placed on hold.
I’m one of 38 per cent of Australia's 2.2 million small businesses run by women, many of them mothers.
I was naive in thinking my husband would also be home and we could share the load – as we have done our entire relationship. But he is considered an essential worker, and I am a female with children who runs her creative business from home.
Women have been hardest hit by COVID-19. We’ve borne the brunt of job losses, with 53 per cent of total jobs lost between February and July belonging to women, and assumed more unpaid responsibility such as educating and caring for children and housekeeping.
And it doesn’t end once kids go back to school and we adjust to a new normal. Experts say that women will be facing financial hardship for decades to come. Superannuation withdrawal anyone?
For me, each day of lockdown 1.0 felt like the air was slowly being sucked out of every room in the house. Yet underneath the anxiety, I was angry and frustrated that my gender defined my role. I carried much of the emotional and physical work – I was too exhausted to pivot.
The idea is that we learn from experience; we can adjust the course. When lockdown 2.0 was announced, I knew I couldn’t endure a repeat performance. So I picked up the magazine and started working towards publishing this issue. I found joy in every day. I was on purpose. And yes, the kids survived just fine.
So here we are with just one issue of OAK after two lockdowns. I can be disappointed and embarrassed that I didn’t pivot (I did launch a podcast if that counts?). Or I can look for the silver lining.
Getting offline and unplugging has become an enjoyable change. In the last six months, I’ve read countless books and feel nourished. I’ve taken walks through the surrounding bushland listening to inspiring podcasts. More importantly, I’ve ticked off some very important doctor appointments (a reminder to check your breasts and get to know your normal).
COVID-19 rocked business owners to their core. But small business owners are resilient. It’s in our DNA.
This quote says it best, ‘Of course I struggle. I just don’t quit’.
Take care of yourself,
Kimberley Furness - Founder + Editor
Now more than ever, support local. I encourage you to look at those who advertise within these pages. It is the small businesses in our community – not the big guns – who support this independent magazine. These women are so passionate about the ethos of supporting one another.
Coming up to Christmas, consider purchasing a gift from a small business, engaging the services of a local creative or indulging in the flavours of local hospitality.
Surely we know by now, how important it is to build our own local ecosystem which supports our families and community in return.