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3 Small Business Shortages and How to Overcome Them



3 Small Business Shortages and How to Overcome Them

How to prepare yourself for less stock, staff and time this year.

Australian merchants have shown incredible resilience over the last two years. From hard lockdowns and capacity limits, to mandatory check-ins and vaccine declarations, business owners have had to navigate the murky waters of unprecedented disruption. Coming out the other side unscathed has been a near impossible feat.

Yet the challenges are far from over. Aftershocks are still being felt right through the supply chain, and there’s a chronic undersupply of staff. It’s no secret that the word ‘shortage’ will come to define the next twelve months. 

In 2022, businesses are at the whim of three important things: stock, staff and time, regardless of their size or industry. Chances are, you may experience a shortage of all three.

Fortunately, there are ways and means of mitigating the impact and navigating your business through these challenging times.

3 shortages impacting small businesses

Many items have been in short supply lately — toilet paper, pasta, RAT tests, and tissues, to name a few. However, there are three far more serious shortages that have the power to temporarily disrupt business.

  1. Stock. Your business may encounter stock or product shortages caused by supply chain issues. These can very quickly lead to empty shelves, unhappy customers and lost income.
  2. Staff. As we navigate one of the worst workforce shortages in recent times, businesses will feel the impacts of mandated vaccines, closed borders and even positive COVID-19 cases.
  3. Time. One of the most precious resources of all will likely be compromised by having to deal with the two shortages above, as well as managing new health and safety regulations.

How to beat shortages

While each of these shortages poses a problem for any merchant, it’s important to recognise that these are hurdles all businesses and industries will have to overcome this year.


Right now, manufacturing and supply chains are under the pump. This means merchants are being forced to manage their businesses with greater agility.

This means getting on top of your stock. Do you have reliable inventory software on hand that alerts you when products are low? If not, a retail point-of-sale system is going to make your life easier — and help ensure you don’t lose custom to the competition.

Consider also whether your processes are up to scratch. Are you conducting regular internal supply chain audits? Is there anything you can order more of right now? These are important questions to ask yourself.

Similarly, think about how you can be more flexible with your stock. Consider diversifying supplies to minimise shortages down the line, or explore alternate manufacturing methods that are onshore. You could even temporarily substitute products, just to ensure you have something to sell when customers come looking.

Regardless of logistics, one of the most important things to do is be honest with your customers. If you know you’ll be short on a particular product, it may be appropriate to inform your audiences via email or social media. You could offer a pre-order, to ensure you’re still getting cash flow. 

Similarly, stay informed about the commercial landscape around you. News of changing restrictions locally and abroad can impact your operations, so keeping on top of these updates can help you remain agile and minimise the impact to your business.


Workers are the most important cog in the small business machine. Without them, many businesses can’t operate. 

Unfortunately, the current labour shortage is putting enormous pressure on merchants who either want to sustain or even grow their enterprise. And, when workers aren’t there to fill the gaps, managers and owners will have to step in and pick up the slack. It’s no surprise that 31% of small business owners see staff shortages as a very serious issue.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways to navigate this labour dilemma. For example, consider raising your wages, introducing flexible work hours or adding work perks to boost the appeal of vacant positions — or to retain talent, which is equally important. 

You could also streamline the application process by creating a clear position description that answers important questions about duties, requirements and responsibilities, and posting it on various platforms so it can get in front of the most people. You may even want to consider upskilling your current team to fill gaps, or even introduce intuitive tech like the Zeller EFTPOS Terminal — designed for swift transactions, enabling your staff to take payment from a customer in mere seconds with little to no training.

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The owner of the business is often the most time-poor person on the team. So much of their time each day is spent fulfilling countless other roles, from floor manager, to HR, to social media executive. All the while, they’re also trying to scale up their business — something that’s near impossible to do without carving out time that is dedicated to pursuing growth planning and strategies.

Thankfully, there are adjustments that can be made to help business owners deal with the pressure of stepping into multiple roles. 

  • Instead of spending hours counting cash drawers, waiting for payments to process, or keying in items manually, you could implement a POS system that does it for you. 
  • Zeller Terminal can step in to help you save time with swift transactions, POS system synchronisation and a real-time overview of your cash flow.
  • Keep an eye out for signs of burnout, a common phenomenon plaguing business owners, and take steps to manage it.
  • Revisit your business plan and consider what jobs are necessary to achieve growth, and what can be put on hold. 

It goes without saying that 2022 will be a challenging year for small business owners in Australia. That being said, there is the opportunity to take advantage of shopper’s pent-up desire to spend and new consumer trends to grow your business — if you are able to overcome these three critical shortages. 

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