Supporting local businesses supports your local economy, and therefore creates a more vibrant place to live and work. It’s a win-win for everyone involved – buy local products and services, those businesses grow and employ local people, and wages or profits are reinvested in the local economy and the cycle starts again.
If you’re reading this blog you are probably already doing your bit to help your local economy. Many of us ‘buy local’, avoiding the large chain stores and online shops if we can find a local independent business instead. However, there is always room for improvement.
Buy local campaigns often promote the local high street retailers, but in many cases these businesses contribute just a percentage to the overall local economy: there are many other businesses, often out of sight, that are doing just as much if not more.
Consider the businesses occupying the offices above and behind the high street, those on business parks or working from home offices and kitchen tables. These businesses are also paying their rates, employing local people, and ploughing earnings back into the local economy.
They can also do with our support.
Supporting Local Businesses
There are several ways that local businesses need support. First and foremost they need customers and while for many businesses those customers don’t necessarily need to be local if they are, there are benefits for everyone. Local customers can help businesses reduce their overheads such as delivery and travel costs. Even when costs are involved these can be spent with local couriers and firms rather than nationwide or global companies.
There are benefits for local businesses to use local suppliers too. Supply chains are shorter, it’s easier to arrange a face-to-face meeting, and it often means that suppliers can be a lot more responsive to their local clients’ needs. Need a rush job? It’s often logistically easier for a local company to fulfil urgent requests than a business based miles away.
Using local suppliers (and B2B businesses using each others services) helps to build relationships between businesses in the same area and a strong local business community. It keeps money in the local economy and helps other businesses to succeed – therefore employing more local people, providing more services or products, expanding into larger premises etc. etc.
So how does a Business Hub fit into this?
3 Ways A Business Hub Can Help
- Provides a place for local businesses to meet
To build relationships amongst local businesses we all need to know each other. Of course there are lots of business networking groups that provide a place to meet (online and offline). However, I believe there is a bit of a difference with the Your Business Hub model because we don’t subscribe to the elevator pitch and business card exchange format – our approach is much more about building supportive relationships rather than pitching business to each other.
- Provides a supportive business community
What do I mean by supportive business relationships? At our Hubs the idea is to leave egos at the door and forget about whether you can sell to someone else in the room. Instead it’s about listening, learning and offering no-strings-attached advice to each other with the philosophy that if we can help other businesses to thrive, it will help our business too.
- Provides real business learning
The Your Business Hub format, although not set in stone, typically involves practical business education in the form of talks and workshops. These are delivered by other local business owners who know what they’re talking about, and practice what they preach. Our speakers are always generous with their advice and tips – they share exactly how to do things, no holding back in an attempt to get attendees to buy products or services. They are also honest about what they do: from sharing their mistakes and what hasn’t worked, to being frank about whether a business owner should take their approach or not.
Having set up the first Hub four years ago I know that this model is working, making a real difference on a local level by creating a supportive business community. Together our Hub members are supporting each other and helping create successful local businesses. They’re sharing knowledge and contacts, collaborating with each other to offer better products or services, and turning to local suppliers instead of looking further afield. All of this is helping the local economy whether it’s a sole trader having a little bit more in their bank account to spend in the town; or a larger business being able to employ more staff or expand their business further.
If you think your town or area could do with a similar catalyst to build better and stronger relationships in your local business community have a look at the Start A Business Hub page here.