Stress levels prove high

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WA Small Business commissioner David Eaton.
Camera IconWA Small Business commissioner David Eaton. Credit: The West Australian

Small businesses in the Kimberley are being urged to seek help or advice to offset their stress levels following the results of a recent study.

The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre’s Small Business Survey revealed one in five small business owners in the Kimberley reported very high stress levels, and a further 48 per cent high stress.

Of those reporting business-related stress, 55 per cent said it had a negative effect on their physical and mental health, while about one in four said it had an influence on their relationship with their partner, causing conflict with family and with staff members.

WA Small Business commissioner David Eaton said stress could be positive until it had a negative effect.

More than 35 per cent of small business owners in the Kimberley intend to leave their business within the next five years, but Mr Eaton said they were essential to regional towns.

“(Small businesses) not only provide the essentials that we need to exist in the regions, they also provide the ambience and the extras that make life in the regions so enjoyable,” he said.

“From an economic standpoint, small business is worth around $40 billion to the State’s economy and is a major provider of local employment.”

Whether the reason for stress in the Kimberley was higher operating costs, limited consumer population or the challenges of seasonal conditions, Mr Eaton said small businesses must seek help or advice to reduce stress levels.

“Most business owners will experience stress at some time, but stress rarely fixes itself,” he said. “(Those) experiencing stressful situations should get help, even if it’s just help to see things more clearly.

“Sometimes another opinion or some key business advice is all you need to find direction and move towards a better position.”

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive officer Jael Napper said there was a great deal of support for businesses in the Kimberley.

“Running a small business in any circumstance is stressful, but add to that the remoteness of the Kimberley with the seasonality of trading, infrastructure and supply challenges, it’s not surprising to hear these results,” she said.

“I urge everyone to consider the hurdles to their business and come to the chamber to put it on our agenda.”

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