Sometimes a hustle is just to put a bit of extra cash in someone’s pocket, and sometimes it’s the start of a fantastic new business. Either way, let’s support the entrepreneurs among us.
September is the month when we South Africans celebrate our heritage. Part of this celebration can and should involve support for local businesses and the many ways they add value to our communities.
As a customer, here are 5 things you can do to give small businesses a boost:
1. Buy what they’re selling
The most obvious and most powerful way to support a small business is to buy from it. Small and medium businesses provide 60% of all jobs, which means the more we as consumers support local entrepreneurs, the stronger we make the economy.
2. Tell your friends on social media
Share pics of a meal you have at your local coffee shop and tag the business’s social media page so others can find it and support it. Interacting with SMEs on social media also helps the business owner know who their customers are, how to better serve them and how to attract more.
3. Give reviews
Share your experience with friends, family and colleagues – in person and/or online. People are more likely to trust a recommendation from an actual customer than an advert from the business. Also, small businesses don’t have big advertising budgets, so word-of-mouth marketing is crucial for them to grow.
4. Support inspires others
When we support SMEs, it gives other entrepreneurs the confidence to also try. In addition to buying from a small business, be on the lookout for ways you can help a new idea to take off. At the very least, listen to an entrepreneur’s sales pitch or ask for local referrals for products and services.
5. Work together as a community
SMEs get more done together than when they compete with each other and against global companies. Business owners who operate in the same field should try to work together to the benefit of their businesses and their customers.
Why is it important to support local businesses?
Here are some reasons to consider:
- Local brings variety
Importers and megastores need volume to keep prices down. Volume means a lot of the same thing – and less variety. A local shop that gets stock from local farmers and craftspeople is likely to carry a variety of products. Interesting shops that sell unusual items can also draw people from elsewhere to spend money in your community.
- Local creates jobs and opportunities
The farmers and craftspeople that supply local shops all earn a living they might not have been able to do otherwise. And, as their small businesses grow, they can start employing other people in the area.
- Local businesses invest locally
A local business has a stake in the local area. This is the reason why local businesses often support the nearby schools and sports clubs. They even get together to clean up their towns and help municipalities with service delivery. On a smaller scale, a local butcher, tailor or plumber whose business is growing can take in young people and teach them the trade. This is the kind of investment that changes lives and grows economies.
- Local supports the people you know
Not many of us know the big boss of a big-name supermarket, but chances are that you know the local mechanic or the person who owns the veggie shop around the corner, and you certainly know the neighbour whose cakes you buy or the lady at work that sells homemade soaps. It feels good to know who you are giving your money to.
- Local is convenient
A small shop down the road might charge a bit more, but if you add up your time and transport costs to get to a shopping mall, it is a bargain. And as more and more people support the local shop, prices will come down as volumes increase. Also, when you buy products that are made and distributed locally, repairs and maintenance is a much simpler process.
Let’s challenge ourselves this Heritage Month to really buy local. Let’s find those people whose small businesses can make a big difference to financial wellness in our communities and support them.