Small Business Saturday has become a bigger deal over the past few years encouraging us all to use smaller, independent businesses as part of our Saturday shopping. It falls the day after Black Friday in the US, another trend the UK imported from the US and sends many into a Christmas shopping frenzy. And then the week later in the UK, once we’ve all gotten over Black Friday. But why do we need a day to tell us to remember the smaller traders out there? And why just retail?
The truth is, the economy is heavily reliant on small business yet focus is often shifted to the big players on the high street. Many of us forget the little guys when we go out shopping and just head to our nearest supermarket or shopping centre full of multi-national big name retailers. And this is also true for many non-retail businesses. We forget the little guy that probably lives on our street.
How often do we show love for the small businesses around us?
Love Thy Neighbour
We all do it. Look for the cheapest option or search online for services that are probably available right on our doorstep. How often have you asked your friends and family if they know anyone that can help? Do you post to your personal Facebook page when you need a job doing to see if anyone you know can help? We are all guilty of neglecting those that we actually know in real life when it comes to our business services. Now, more than ever we need to change this. The world we live in is changing faster than ever and with the impending Brexit the way we shop and the services we use are going to be brought into more focus.
The Autumn Statement in the UK was released a few days ago and already we know that prices are going to go up in 2017 and the economy is going to be shaky. This isn’t great if you’re an already struggling business. Even less great if you’re a small business that is struggling to attract local trade. But the onus now more than ever is on all of us to look at our local economies and do what we can to support it. Just think about that for a minute. If every single one of us made more of an effort to spend our money locally, the individuals we could all support.
Who Do You Support?
When we support the small businesses, sole traders, freelancers even side hustlers around us what we actually do is;
Put food on the tables of people you know
Helping a kid, who probably goes to school with one of your kids, take up a hobby, dance lessons, judo, swimming, football.
Helping a local family pay their mortgage
Creating local jobs for local people
Giving someone the opportunity to follow their passion
Doing your bit for the environment
When you shop at independent, locally owned, small businesses, 52% of what you spend stays within your local economy.
Not Just Once A Year
I kind of have a problem with the whole term, Small Business Saturday. I totally believe in the concept but I don’t think all this focus should be given to just one day in a year. Why can’t we have it once a month? Once a week? Why can’t it be an ongoing initiative to encourage it every day? If we are only reminded once a year to shop local then we are not going to get into the habit of doing it. We need reminding daily to make it a habit that we get used to and it becomes second nature.
We each need to make an effort to think more when we shop. Brexit is going to limit a lot of our global business trading. Once over I used to preach that having a business online meant you could do business anywhere. For some, this will change. Import and export are going to change. Embrace that change and shop local more.
So now I’ve convinced you to shop local more, what kind of things can you spend your money on?
Jewellery made by a local craft person
Cakes from a local baker
Products from an MLM your neighbour is operating
Floral displays from an independent florist
Get your hair cut from a local salon owner
Fresh fruit, veg, meats, cheese at a farmers market
For business services, the freelance economy is growing and you can find individuals to do all manner of tasks in your business either from your premises or in their own homes. Many businesses just look on freelancer website for these services but chances are you may know someone that can help. Or someone you know might know someone. Before you Google bookkeeping services, ask your friends if they know anyone. Need a website? Ask on Facebook. Fully aware that you need to get to grips with your online presence and your social media marketing? Yep, that’s what I do. Why don’t you ask me if I can help you?
Do you work for a large company that struggles to recruit for some positions? Why don’t you suggest outsourcing some of the work to local freelancers or other smaller businesses?
Make Small Business Saturday Everyday
So this Christmas rather than heading to your local huge retail park and shopping in the same old multi-national stores, why don’t you make an effort to visit a local craft fair or farmers market? And then keep on going back. Find out who amongst your Facebook friends runs their own small business or works freelance. You might not need them now but someday they might be able to help you. Keep an eye on your social media feeds for people you know advertising what they do or what they sell. Make an effort to recommend people you know to others. If you network within your local business community, keep in mind your neighbour that might be able to help someone you network with rather than dismissing the contact because they can’t help you.
Another reason why you need to shift your focus to smaller, local business is that within the next 5-10 years around 38% of all jobs will be replaced by robots. That’s a lot of people that will be out of work unless they futureproof themselves. It will be the big global businesses that start to do this first so it will be even more vital that we all support the smaller business that will help to create future jobs. Every action that happens within large industries has a knock on effect for many other smaller businesses. If we all start to shift our focus now we can help smaller business to grow and weather future storms.
Between Brexit and robots business will completely change very soon. Let’s be ready for it and start supporting each other more rather than helping to buy more yachts for CEO’s.
And you’ll always get far better service from the actual business owner. Guaranteed.