Living in an age of big brand saturation, large-scale shopping centres and massive retail chains, it’s all too easy to overlook the small businesses in your own community. Yet these companies are owned and run by passionate entrepreneurs, many of whom care deeply about customer service and can offer a personal touch often lacking from interactions with the big national brands.
With the festive season now in full swing, there are many great reasons to support small, local businesses:
- A thriving small business sector creates jobs and economic opportunity.
- Small business owners invest in their local community.
- You can get differentiated products and services from a small business.
- Enjoy a more personal touch.
- You will help business owners and their families to enjoy a prosperous festive season.
Let’s jump in and take a closer look at the benefits of supporting small businesses.
1. A thriving small business sector creates jobs and economic opportunity.
Everyone knows that economic conditions in South Africa are difficult – and with so many big companies downsizing and public finances in a sad state, we cannot look to the corporates or state-owned entities to drive growth. We need to nurture the small business sector to spur economic growth and job creation.
Small businesses are often more labour-intensive than big businesses, which helps to create jobs. And they usually work closely with other local and small businesses, in turn nurturing the growth and sustainability of your regional economy. The benefits that radiate from a successful small business economy in your region are numerous:
- Creating work for other small companies and freelance workers;
- Bolstering property values;
- Bringing more choice and competition to the market;
- Keeping investment and money circulating in your local economy.
2. Small business owners understand and invest in their local community.
A small business – whether your friendly local plumber or handyman, the home industry baker, or the brokerage that gives you financial advice – has a vested interest in the success of your community. Small business owners are often the most loyal sponsors of charities, schools, and sports teams in your immediate region.
Apart from spending their money with suppliers in your local community, small business networks often take the lead in beautifying and cleaning their town or suburb, supporting the local neighbourhood watch, helping the homeless and funding community facilities like playgrounds and sporting facilities. If they have a good festive season, they’ll be better positioned to spread some cheer of their own in the community.
3. You can get differentiated products and services from a small business.
The customer experience and product range you’ll get from the flagship retail supermarket in your local mall is predictable because it’s the same in every store in every mall in every suburb in the country. If you are looking for something a little more special for your festive season meal or as a gift for a loved one, you are more likely to find it from a small business.
From artisan food stalls at the neighbourhood market to the vintage clothing store to the independent beauty salon, local shops often try to set themselves apart by offering goods you can’t get from the supermarket. In a world of mass-produced goods, it can be wonderful to find something made or sourced with real care and love.
4. Enjoy a more personal touch.
Small business owners are usually hands-on with their customers, and many take great pride in learning the preferences and quirks of every person or business they deal with. Even though big businesses try to achieve personalisation with their customer relationship management software, there is no substitute for someone who gets you because they see you and chat to you once a or twice a month.
Say you own a small business and have dealt the same computer dealer for years. They will understand your challenges and will be able to give you good advice when you need to get a new computer or software package. Or the owner of your local gift shop may be able to offer you a creative gift idea for someone in your family.
5. You will help business owners and their families to enjoy a prosperous festive season.
Many small business owners have endured a difficult year or two. Given their bravery in striking out on their own and their dedication to their staff, customers and local communities, they deserve some recognition for their hard work and commitment.
By supporting a local business owner, you are helping someone in your community to enjoy a happy festive season, put food on the table for their family, and pay their school fees. And you’re helping their employees to prosper, too.
Small is beautiful
Small businesses have an important role to play in creating vibrant communities and driving a growing economy. Every rand you spend with a small business is an investment in a more prosperous country. Spending some of your festive season budget with a small business feels good because the owner usually really values your custom and wants to help your town or suburb to grow and thrive.