Attracting and retaining skilled staff and filling apprentice and qualified tradespeople positions remains the greatest challenge for the state’s small business owners.

That’s the key finding of a new study by Tasmanian Leaders’ Alumni.

Graduates of the leadership program recently surveyed more than 130 businesses representing a variety of sectors including agriculture, hospitality, tourism and retail.

A summary of conversations have been released in a document titled: What stops us? Small business: overcoming obstacles and seizing opportunities.

Businesses reported exciting opportunities existed in the growth in tourism numbers to the state, online sales growth and leveraging the development of trusted brands and opportunities internationally.

The highlight for small business owners and operators included forming bonds and being part of a local community, flexibility of lifestyle and family life and creating strong and real relationships through the business.

One of the most significant challenges identified by small businesses surveyed was skilled staff and apprentice attraction and retention.

Building resilience and wellbeing was deemed important to guard against the ups and downs of operating a small business.

The significance of research and planning as well as accessing support outside the business sector were also highlighted.

Government assistance for small business should include support through finance and education and incentives to employ people, respondents said.

“The aim of this document is to inform future work supporting small business in Tasmania as well as feedback to the small businesses surveyed as part of the Thinkbank process,” general manager Angela Driver said.

“Thinkbanks are held annually with a select number of Tasmanian Leaders alumni to address a topical issue for Tasmania and are designed and conducted to give those involved practical ideas and tools to develop their organisations and more widely the state.”

The report is available on the Tasmanian Leaders’ website.