Love Your Local Business

Yes I know, that old chestnut, BUT in talking about building British business it is important to understand the statistics that make up that business. Research released in October 2013 by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills shows that at the start of 2013 there were 4.9 million private sector businesses in the UK, 99.9 % of which were SME’s (small and medium sized enterprises). These figures were an increase on 2012 and the main reason for that increase was due to 127,000 more businesses starting but employing no one – the micro of micro businesses.

When talking about ‘shopping local’ these are the businesses we are often referring to though of course with the marvels of technology some of these are not only local, but national and global as well.

You would be forgiven for thinking the ‘Shop Local’ term only relates to retail. This however is not just about popping to the local butcher once a week and thinking you’ve done your bit, which of course you have and thank you, this is about looking at the much bigger picture. ‘Shop Local’ includes tradesmen, solicitors, graphic designers, printers, the pub, the coffee shop – the list is endless, and so too is the contribution you can make to keep these businesses alive.

In January 2012 I pledged to only ‘Shop Indie’ – wherever possible to buy my weekly shopping from independent businesses. On average I do 95% of my shopping with indies. We are very lucky in my home town of Scarborough to have a small independent supermarket group that gives me supermarket opportunities while I stick to my principles. My shopping indie turned to eating indie, so whenever I go out for a meal I choose an independent restaurant, café or bar, and sleeping indie, a hotel stop over will usually find me in an independent hotel – did you know that Best Western hotels are all independents under one umbrella group?

I am however not expecting you all to rush out and suddenly change your shopping habits; I did discover recently, when speaking to a micro business owner that had done some market research in a North Yorkshire market town, that people are concerned about shopping indie because they do not know how to. They are worried they may have to interact with the shopkeeper or business owner, something that happens less in larger shopping environments. Is it not sad to think we are worried about interacting with others?

Another common reason for not shopping local is time. If you are a young parent why not start by engaging your children with the shopping process – making a list, choosing the apples in the greengrocers, picking the sausages in the butchers counter; shopping then becomes a social occasion and your children learn new skills. If you are a single bloke who lives off ping meals then get your morning coffee from an indie store and your relaxing tipple from an independent watering hole.

The easiest place to start to ‘Love Your Local Business’ IS on the High Street, and you might find this Infographic useful. It includes data from the British Independent Retailers Association and shows how a shift of just 10% of your spending can make a huge impact and the only way we are going to ensure our local businesses survive and thrive is by loving them. Remember though if they don’t love you back find another one, after all there are over 4 million of them in the UK to go visit!

Tina is a Micro Business specialist and Independent Business Ambassador who is 3rd generation self-employed. An absolute champion for small businesses. The Formations Company is very pleased to have Tina Boden back guest blogging about a topic near and dear to our hearts in The Formations Company. Buying Local has always been an important value to us, do comment below if you would like to share your Local Business Story with us!