Surprisingly, of the 5.2m businesses in the UK, 99% of them are small businesses, and yet people still continually support the larger businesses that seem to be taking over the high street. The thing is, small businesses provide a number of benefits, to both individuals and to the local economy. Small businesses are able to provide jobs to millions of people across the UK and they are also really helping Britain out of the recession. Many people believe that, because the larger companies are stealing the limelight, local businesses are not receiving the recognition that they really deserve.
Small Business Saturday, which has been in December for the past two years, has been implemented in the UK to bring the smaller businesses to light and to encourage people to support them. Rachel Parkin, who is the owner of several small businesses, states that she feels that "the very first step in supporting small businesses has to be creating awareness" and I couldn't agree more. Promotion and advertising are extremely expensive, but something that larger businesses can easily afford. There are those who will go out of their way to shop at/eat at/support local businesses on Small Business Saturday, and while that is wonderful, it is important to support them all year-round and not to forget about them!
One of the most important things to note is that small businesses really do help out with the local economy. It is obvious that larger companies generate more money than the smaller ones, but it's the smaller businesses (which is defined as having 250 employees or fewer, with micro-businesses having 0-9 employees) that really help out in the long run! The Guardian reported in 2013, that for every £1 spent with a small business, 63p stayed in the local economy, as opposed to larger businesses, where only 40p stayed locally. This is great news for the UK's economy as a whole and if more people were to support local businesses, the economy would stabalise and improve a lot quicker.
Something that sets a smaller enterprise apart from a larger corporation is the level of customer service that you receive. I personally work in a craft shop, which is a micro-business. The level of customer service that we offer is vastly different from a larger craft shop that I have been in. Service is a lot more personal and I find that smaller businesses do have a lot more time for their customers. They will go out of their way to find something out if they don't know the answer and will often bend over backwards to help out the customer. Much better than shop assistants who insist on discussing their plans for the weekend while they halfheartedly fold your clothes and shove them into a bag... People who work at small businesses are often very knowledgeable about the product they are selling, whether it's the coffee they use or the source of their food, what the best tool is for the job or the best pickle to go with your cheese.
|Earrings by EmmaRuthJones on Etsy|
Many people will go into a small business and state that they are so glad that they're there, buy their one tiny item, and be on their way again. Unfortunately a business can't survive on that. I'm not saying that you have to spend a lot of money in every small business you go in, but be sure to tell your friends/family about that lovely little tea room that you visited, or the quirky gift shop that you found that perfect, unique gift. Encourage others to buy food from local market stalls (and it often works out a lot cheaper than buying from the supermarket!) and if you find craft supplies on Amazon, or Etsy, click through to the seller page, or Google the seller's name, to go to their independent website. Amazon and Etsy take a transaction fee for each transaction and the independent business will get more money if you buy directly through them! It won't cost you any more, but it'll make all the difference to the business! (I have also discovered that you may actually make a saving by directly going to their website, as they may have different promotions or offers on than on Etsy/Amazon!)
So yes, 2015 is the year I intend to shop small whenever I can. I doubt I'll be able to do it all the time, but I'm going to try my best! After deleting my Amazon account just before Christmas, I have found it so much easier to shop small! I hope that you join in my quest too. :)
Lancaster, P. (2014) The UK Grabs A Megaphone and Shouts About Small Business Saturday [Online] Available from: http://uk.sageone.com/2014/12/18/small-business-saturday-uk/ [Accessed 13/02/15]
Longworth, J. (2014) Small businesses are the backbone of our communities [Online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/small-business-network/2014/dec/06/small-businesses-backbone-communities-john-longworth [Accessed: 13/02/15]
O'Connell, J (2013) Seven Reasons to Shop Locally [Online] Available from: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/dec/06/shop-locally-small-business-saturday-seven-reasons [Accessed: 13/02/15]
Williams, M. (2013) 5 Reasons Why Small Businesses are Important [Online] Available from: http://labourlist.org/2013/12/5-reasons-why-small-businesses-are-important/ [Accessed 13/02/15]