• The December/January period is often a 'valley of death' for small businesses in defence industry. Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash.
    The December/January period is often a 'valley of death' for small businesses in defence industry. Photo by Steve Halama on Unsplash.

For small businesses in Defence Industry, the Christmas holiday period is always an uncertain time. While the holiday stand-down for some provides time to take leave and re-energise, too many small business owners are instead concerned about how they will survive through the large break in work that this period represents, all while keeping their team and business intact.

Traditionally, this creates a spike in staff losing their jobs, simply as a way to save money and increase cashflow during the quiet period. This short-term fix, however, hurts the industry as a whole as talent and niche capability becomes harder to find in the New Year. 

The December/January period is a well-known ‘Valley of Death’ for small businesses. With the Department of Defence on reduced staff until the end of January and most large companies in the Industry taking similar leave periods, small businesses face a 6-week period from mid-December where it is highly unlikely for them to win new work. If they have staff who are not yet on contract, or are on ‘the bench’, by the end of November, it becomes even more unlikely that they will secure new contracts until February or later.

So, what are business owners to do? Fire staff to save money and lose all of their corporate knowledge and capability? Or risk financially crippling the company by hoping that new work comes in before it’s too late? Tim Walmsley, CEO of BenchOn, believes there is a better way that creates a win/win for all involved.

"The survival rate of Australian businesses, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, has been steadily decreasing over the past five years," Walmsley said. "The 2018 Financial Year saw a survival rate of 64.5 per cent, a drop of 6.4 per cent from 2017. We are currently seeing a similar trend in 2019 with a large increase in businesses reaching out to BenchOn to help them survive through the holiday period."

BenchOn is a veteran-owned Business Talent Sharing platform that allows businesses to earn revenue by contracting out their idle staff to other businesses that need specialist support for their projects. BenchOn prevents unnecessary job losses by linking small businesses that need the work to the larger organisations that have too much work on and not enough staff.

"What larger companies miss is that by securing workers before the holiday stand-down, they are far more likely to lock in much cheaper supplier rates," Walmsley said. "Small business owners are simply looking for consistency in work and many are willing to discount their rates if they can secure contracts for the new year prior to going on leave.

"We have seen savings of up to 30 per cent during this period, so now is definitely the time to find and lock in that specialist support that you are going to need in January and beyond."

In fact, as the available talent increases on the BenchOn platform towards December, BenchOn is challenging all larger enterprises to do their part and engage with their smaller suppliers prior to going on leave.

"Don’t leave it until the end of January. Help us save Australian jobs and businesses by being proactive and filling your contract support requirements now. BenchOn will even match the requirements for free," Walmsley said. "We all know how busy it can be after Christmas so why not get your talent sourcing out of the way, save someone’s job for Christmas and help us strengthen Australian small businesses for 2020."

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