Small business. While the name might suggest minimal impact, the reality is in Tasmania, small businesses are big players when it comes to the state's economy - some would say they are the engine room. Small businesses represent about 97 per cent of the total number of businesses in Tasmania. They also employ more than 110,000 people and form a vital part of regional communities.
Still, Tasmanian small businesses are not immune to the challenges facing many across the country. Mainly, ensuring they remain innovative and flexible in an ever evolving industry. We have seen it in the state's retail sector. As more and more consumers make the transition to online opportunities, less are inclined to step foot into a physical shop for a face-to-face transaction. In hospitality, additions such as Uber Eats have been welcomed with open arms by some. While others claim the platform "rips off" small business and put extra pressures on an already stretched model.
A series of small business symposiums hosted by the University of Tasmania late last year assessed some of the challenges facing the state's sector. Here, UTAS College of Business and Economics executive dean Stuart Crispin acknowledged growth as one of the main points of conjecture. Particularly, the act of taking an idea or concept and growing it into a successful business. However, Associate Professor Crispin also acknowledged the many small business success stories in Tasmania and the importance of further fostering collaboration and innovation.
At the weekend a number of small businesses in Launceston celebrated their first anniversary: Asian restaurant Pachinko, nitrogen ice creamery Nitro Ella and the Tamar Valley Wine Centre. While different in what they offer, there was a common thread between the businesses as they acknowledged their first year in the game - the customers and local support. But it's a two-way street. Clearly these examples have found a way to make their dream of starting a small business, into a successful reality. Let's hope they, along with the many others, continue on their current path of innovation. Launceston will be better for it.