Sole traders and micro-businesses, the backbone of the economy, are turning to free social platforms to continue trading online with the economy opening and closing in ongoing lockdowns.
It comes as new data shows 47,000 new fledgling Aussie businesses have been registered in the last 12 months.
Australian marketplace and e-commerce platform WorkApp has seen a 110 percent spike in small businesses listing their services to continue trading and make ends meet.
WorkApp CEO Shane Wallace (pictured) said they have seen business listings on the platform more than double since the start of the year, with a flood of 5000 additional businesses signing up in the past week.
“Many sole traders and micro businesses are now evaluating how they operate, with some never going back to a shop front to cut the cost of rent,” Wallace said.
“Up until now they had been able to get by without a web presence or ability to sell online,” he added.
“But with the open and shut lockdowns, it means that if you’re not online it’s really hard to keep cash flow going and continue paying the bills on time when the situation keeps changing.”
ScotPac’s SME Growth index found that cashflow woes impact 72.5 per cent or three in four businesses.
“It’s even harder when you are having to change your business plan, coming up with new ideas including delivery methods in the midst of a fast moving environment.”
“In the past year listings have grown significantly – we now have 25,000 businesses using the service to grow with more coming on board each month.”
Wallace likes to see himself in a David and Goliath battle against traditional methods of transacting – whether it’s a bicycle, car or even a home which is being sold.
“We are taking connecting and communicating to a level playing field by removing the power to influence a ‘search’ from leading corporations and giving it to the people, at no cost.”
The app was originally created to make life easier for tradies looking to hire casual workers in their vicinity, it has since gone viral as thousands of Aussies download it every week, hoping to use the free platform to find a job, or sell things to people nearby.
At the start of COVID, during the first round of lockdowns, it was seeing 3000 people download the app in a day, with more than 200,000 now listed.
“There’s no expensive middle man. We connect people directly and then leave them to get on with business.”
It uses a special “refresh” technology that allows users to boost their listing to the top of search results with the press of a button. There is no commission, no cost for listings and no limit on the number of times listings can be refreshed.
“We set out to solve a simple problem – making it easier for people to find a local worker without having to pay for that privilege. But we soon realised that not charging any fees or commissions meant we could add in many more common digital functions, such as promoting your business, buying and selling, and keeping in touch.”
“The idea for the app came about when my brother in construction had a labourer call in sick at the last minute and a concrete truck turned up onsite ready to pour, and no one to help labour, so we needed to find a better way to locate someone quickly. After a frantic search in the local street, he not only found someone to do the job, but this concept was born.”
“It took seven years to build and the pub was my testing ground.”