As a small business owner, the size of your team may be small. However, your power to impact can be mighty, especially if you engage in your community. As the old adage goes – there’s strength in numbers.
Alexandrea Rose, Co-Founder of The Juicery Co. and nominee for Best Emerging Entrepreneur in this year’s Small Business BC Awards agrees.
“Support your surrounding community and they will support you back,” she says. “I've learned that even though finding local suppliers may take a little bit longer and cost a little bit more, it's more than worth it. Get involved in community events and find ways to give back, it all comes full circle!”
Building a Sustainable Business
Community is something that is encouraged by organizations like LOCO BC who bring together local businesses to create a support network and build strong sustainable businesses. Their goal is to increase market share for local businesses in the Province by shifting purchasing towards local and independently owned businesses.
In BC, 98 percent of all businesses are small businesses, and ‘Buy Local’ is a trend that has been gaining momentum for the last few years. It creates a great opportunity to focus your marketing efforts and capitalize on Millennials who want to discover the next new local business.
So, where do you start?
Buy Local Week
BC Buy Local Week starts December 1, 2014. This annual celebration, launched in 2012 by LOCO BC, promotes the contribution of small businesses in BC. Events are organized in local communities and promoted through social media, alongside various contests and discussions.
This year, LOCO have partnered with The Tyee, an independent online Canadian news magazine, asking the public to send Holiday Greetings to their favourite local business for the chance to win one of many prizes. They have also created campaign collateral that you can use to brand your business, as locally owned and operated, and label the products you sell as locally grown or made.
The event not only encourages consumers to buy local, but also encourages fellow small businesses to buy from each other. After all, by spending your own money in the local community, you raise awareness of your business and keep money and taxes within the community.
In a recent study, LOCO found that for every $1 spent at a local business, $0.46 is recirculated back into the local economy, compared to just $0.19 from a multinational chain. And it’s not about making big changes to your spending habits. Just a 1 percent increase in consumer spending created 3,100 jobs each year.
You cannot be calculated and think: if you do this, then you will receive that. It is about getting to know who your potential clients are, what matters to them, and the issues that are affecting your neighbourhood.
"A small business needs a huge amount of support to grow,” says Mischa Chandler Farivar, Owner of Flatspot Longboards and nominee for the Small Business BC Award for Best Community Impact. “We’ve found a community is most likely to back a business when its success is synonymous with the growth and wellness of the community.”
And the best way to create this relationship? To align the goals of the business with the interests of the community. The catch is, it cannot be faked.
“Recognizing the interest of a community requires a special intimacy and genuine knowledge of your local area. We feel Flatspot is rooted strongly in the community because of this commitment and we feel our customers will look to support us because of this reciprocal relationship.”
So open your door, start visiting your neighbours and attending local events, find what matters to the people in your community and start supporting local. It could be more beneficial than you think.