Recently I read an inspiring article by demographer, author and newspaper columnist Bernard Salt and felt compelled to share my thoughts and feelings about it.
I’ve read a few of Bernard’s books and always find his writing style to be open, energising, encouraging and empathetic.
When it comes to the nation’s mood, his finger is firmly on the pulse and his words also demonstrate great understanding towards those of us who live and work beyond the city-limits.
Bernard’s recent column in The Australian focussed on the underlying opportunities and challenges driving Australia’s economic recovery from Coronavirus.
He wrote about needing a national program designed to encourage small businesses to plan boldly and confidently for the year ahead.
But rather than saying our futures will be reliant on government needing to do more, he asks what we, as individual Australians, can do for ourselves, to help spark and drive the nation’s recovery.
In other words, in channelling JFK’s inaugural address, “ask not what your country can do for the Coronavirus recovery – ask what you can do for your country”.
What I like most about Bernard’s article is reference to regional Australia, as being a real part of this challenge.
Of course, we already have inspiring leaders who have successfully demonstrated how the regions respond positively to crisis, such as Grace Brennan’s Buy From The Bush campaign, which supports rural businesses and communities facing drought.
However, Bernard takes it to another level, recognising the genuine positive impacts that come from supporting local businesses.
In regional communities, where many of people reading this article come from, the benefits of spending and buying local are real and we know it.
This may come from running a small business ourselves, employing local people, or through our everyday connections with farmers, accountants, tradies, machinery dealerships, retailers etc etc etc.
Bernard says we should not only focus on buying local but also; take more holidays (always a great idea); get those long-delayed kitchen renovations done (today is always a good time to get started, particularly for old farmhouses); and say something nice to our service providers (we need more positive encouragement).
He also points to the power of positive story-telling, suggesting the national broadcaster should run a weekly television program that “celebrates free-market entrepreneurship”.
“If ever we needed to inspire two million small business owners to think boldly about the future, it is now – I want to see human interest stories that showcase, say, a 28-year-old bricklayer from Dubbo starting a business and taking on an apprentice, or a 38-year old mother starting a medical practice in Hervey Bay while volunteering on the side.”
Bernard’s words also made me reflect on how my business operates and to dig deep and find new ways of improving and generating broader, lasting impacts.
This is a good time for all of us to demonstrate our resilience and tenacity, to be courageous, and encourage others to do the same.
At this time, we can all be more entrepreneurial and less restricted by fear of failure.
Let’s take a risk and dare to win.
Rather than waiting for ‘the government’ to solve our problems, as people from regional Australia we already know too well how to get on with the job and find real ways to solve problems.
Let’s be more innovative and inventive – let’s have more of a go – and be the enablers, the doers, the thinkers and the carers and make a real big difference in 2021 and beyond.
By Robbie Sefton
Robbie Sefton has a dual investment in rural Australia as a farmer, producing wool, meat and grains, and as managing director of national marketing communications company Seftons.