itb-au logo
Story image

How do Australia's rural businesses survive in challenging times? Side hustles

New research has uncovered that rural Australian businesses cope with hardships through ingenuity, namely starting side hustles.

Zoho Corporation, together with Telsyte, released research that shows when faced with significant challenges like drought, bushfire, flood, and pandemic, almost half (44%) of Australia's rural-based small business leaders are starting, or intend to start, side hustles to support household income.

Furthermore, nearly half (44%) of those who have already set up a side hustle have set up at least two businesses.

More than 1 in 3 of those side businesses were in the retail sector with personal and professional services such as accounting, yoga teaching, homeopathy, legal advice and bookkeeping also featuring as popular side hustles.

The research shows that 61% of NSW-based businesses have been affected by drought, fire or flood in the last 12 months, followed by QLD (40%), VIC (36%), SA (34%) and WA (17%).

Despite these hardships, small business owners in non-metro areas are still overwhelmingly positive when it comes to living and working in regional centres.

The research found that one in three prefer to live outside a major city, 3 in 4 (75%) say being based outside of capital cities can improve their lifestyle, half believe that people are more productive in smaller workgroups or rural communities, 4 in 5 that they don't feel isolated working outside of a capital city while 1 in 3 (34%) would like to mix their professional life with time working on farms or rural properties.

Zoho Technologies chief of strategy Vijay Sundaram says, “To maximise the benefits of rural work and help mitigate the challenges, technology and policy have a strong role to play.”

Sundaram says, “Despite significant challenges, entrepreneurialism is alive and thriving in rural Australia, but software and policymakers have a role to play.

“Technology can help with rural development by enabling people to work anywhere, by leveraging the power of innovation and combining it with the influence of government we can repopulate our rural areas, tap into new talent pools and generate a wealth of economic opportunity.

"Technology is the ultimate leveller. It can empower people - no matter where they are based - to connect globally.”

Steve Lockyer, managing director of Inform Ag, an agricultural technical solutions provider servicing rural and regional Australia, shares the same perspective, stating that technology plays a crucial role in boosting efficiency and driving growth for regional businesses, especially in times of crisis.

Lockyer says, “Challenges seem to be rarely far away for rural businesses, and as an agricultural business we've been particularly affected by drought in the past.

"Overcoming challenges as a rural business is about identifying and exploiting competitive advantages, and for us that's technology. In the last 12 months, we've condensed the myriad of applications and softwares we were using and rely instead on Zoho, which has played an important role in our exponential growth in revenue over the past 12 months.

"Nothing can help you prevent or neutralise the impact of pandemic, drought or bushfire, but technology allows us to not only operate in a more efficient, streamlined and systemised manner - which is crucial at times like this - but also to understand our opportunities and challenges as we look to continue our growth.”

Story image
IBM, Alphabet and well-funded startups in the race for quantum supremacy
"It may not come as a surprise that quantum computing one day replaces artificial intelligence as the mainstream technology to help industries tackle problems they never would have attempted to solve before.”More
Link image
Webcast series: The necessary tools to secure a remote workforce
Experts from across the A/NZ region discuss the best security practices in a remote working world - with sessions available on the first Thursday of every month.More
Story image
Aussie businesses turn to financial automation during time of economy uncertainty
“Cloud-based solutions are becoming an increasingly useful tool for improving online experience, accelerating speed to market and contributing to the easing of operational cost pressures; all of which is business critical right now.” More
Story image
AU firms value expertise more than ethics from tech vendors
Australian respondents rank industry expertise and innovation as top traits (41% and 30% respectively), compared with global results that ranked ethics and cultural alignment as more important.More
Story image
Cambium Networks' "breakthrough" in 60 GHz fixed wireless broadband
The technology can deliver ‘fibre-like’ internet speeds at a lower cost and faster time to market than last-mile wired networks.More
Story image
2020 has profoundly changed how we work – so what now?
To navigate these changes now and into the future we need to build adaptable technologies and resilient workforces that can adjust on the fly.More