You know I’m passionate about supporting small and/or local businesses in as many categories as I can manage. It’s not easy when there’s so much choice and the easy option is to hit the high street or the big internet companies and pick the cheapest or most convenient choice at any moment 24/7. Since the start of having our purchases and service choices influenced by social media and the internet, the dynamic has changed extremely quickly and is still changing now. Once upon a time it was simple to start a new business, pop it online and share it among your network and you’d probably make ends meet, it’s still easy to set up a new business but to have it successfully continue to pay your bills is a bit more challenging in a modern day, social media driven world. It’s becoming increasingly difficult for small business to stand out from the crowd, the ones with the biggest marketing budgets continue to win and the small ones are struggling to keep up. Changes in the economy and politics alongside all this add other pressures to the mix and is causing many small businesses to have to close down or find a chunk of money from somewhere to keep things going.
Artwork by me. More on Instagram @JayneKitsch
We all know someone who runs their own business whether it be a part time Etsy affair, a full time freelance venture or a bricks and mortar shop, pub or something else. If you’re anything like me you know MANY people who rely on their own businesses to pay the bills. Yes, it is easier to go work for someone else, but for many being self employed gives them the flexibility to live healthy, balanced lives and this should be something we encourage as a society. Working full time for someone else just isn’t an option for everyone and we need more empathy towards this too. We’ve also got to remember that many small business owners are doing the jobs of entire companies themselves, there’s a lot more on their plates when they only have a handful of the person-power of the big companies and high street competitors.
So, with all this in mind, what can we do to help the businesses owned by our friends and people who inspire us? The obvious thing would be to hire them and spend money with them, but if you can’t do that there’s other ways you can help promote small and local businesses, whilst also being kind and a good friend.
Interact with their social media posts…
This one is so simple. We’re all on social media of some sorts right now and if you’ve ever had to use it to promote something you know how challenging to can be to have your post seen without having to spend money to promote it. If you know your friend’s have small businesses, interact with their posts. The most valuable thing you can do is to share or comment. Likes do have a small impact, but if you really want to make a difference spend a few seconds of your day to do a good deed for a small biz and help them be seen by more people.
Recommend them to your friends and network…
We all use social media or our communities to ask for recommendations in all areas of our lives. Yes, it might be the easiest option to recommend hitting the obvious names, but when you recommend a small business you’re helping your friends (or people who inspire you) pay their bills and further the hard work that they’ve worked their asses off to build up. When you recommend a brand, business or product consider the impact it has in a wider sense, your recommendations can make a difference to society and to people you care about.
Ask how you can help…
It is stressful being completely responsible for your own future and income, when you work for someone else you have predictable income and a set of perks that generally takes a lot of pressure off. Small business owners can’t switch off so easily, because their every action can be detrimental to whether or not they can pay their rent that month or not. Check in with your business owning friends and find out if there’s anything specific you can do to help in addition to the above. Advise, a spare set of hands or a simple recommendation could really make a difference to your friend whilst also showing that your support what they’re doing. And who knows, maybe if they hit the big time one day they’ll hire you and you’ll get to work with your mates instead of your current potentially grumpy boss.
It seems odd to me that so many of us aspire towards being business owners yet so few of us actually make a conscious effort to support start-ups, small businesses and new innovators in whatever area we’re into. It’s so easy to find alternatives to the mainstream now we have the internet, let’s use it wisely and continue to encourage creativity, innovation and the search for the perfect work/life balance.
If you want to support one of my small businesses you can shop hand screen printed t-shirts via Food Scouts which I run with Miz. You can hire us to do various marketing, events and content stuff via Kitsch.inc or hire me to make you something or illustrate something for you. I also have an Etsy shop and everything is linked via my homepage too. You can also find everything on social media too via @JayneKitsch and @wearefoodscouts. If you want some inspiration on other indie businesses you could support, you can read my #IndieLove blog series.