I’m cranky. Chalk that up to the cumulative effects of the Victorian lockdowns. But it’s also a reaction to the dismissive treatment of sole traders.
Governments are juggling an obscene amount of stuff and I appreciate that difficult decisions are being made on the run. And sole traders are not the Lone Rangers when it comes to raw deals or anomalies in these weird old days of pandemic.
But as a professional sole trader registered for GST (not a hobbyist) the Victorian Government has offered my business zero support.
The state government is touting its business support credentials, throwing money at many businesses while ignoring ones like mine. Worse than that, the policy decision overtly articulates disdain for sole traders, singling us out as ineligible for business support packages.
No, I don’t employ staff but in my experience professional sole traders operate through referral networks, which generates a lot of ‘unseen’ project work. For me, as a copywriter, that’s often gigs (aka economic development and employment) for or from web designers, photographers and graphic designers.
After spending the December period voluntarily rejigging my business, I was on track for my best year yet of self-sufficiency. I had my highest turnover in six years back in the different world that was March 2020. And then my lowest came in July. Work was cancelled. Jobs deferred. Pipelines blocked.
This was not meant to be a ‘woe is me’ story (I’m a bit too cross for self-pity today). We’re all experiencing challenges and opportunities, and I know am becoming better at dealing with uncertainty, developing new pipelines and repositioning.
This is a gripe though. About not being taken seriously and treated fairly as a real and legit business operator.
Yes, I’m getting Job Keeper. But so are many other Victorian businesses that the state government is directly supporting with cash handouts, rebates and other programs. I’m in the professional services sector and there is no industry support package for me and my ilk.
My goal is to stand on my own two business feet. Mine is not a zombie business gasping its last breaths in a life fed on handouts. But some respect and a slice of the financial support afforded to others would help my sole trader business breathe just that little bit easier.