In our local communities, we can find hundreds of other small business owners just like us.
People who had the balls to start and sustain a venture that so often comes way too close to home, financially and emotionally.
Are you connecting with them? Supporting them? Starting partnerships with them?
If you’re not, you’re missing out on a world of knowledge and potential growth.
How small business owners can help each other
Ideas. You have the same context: your area. The things that you don’t have in common are the industries, experiences and points of view that can combine to make new ideas.
That happens by chatting, which is a very underappreciated process by which humans develop connections and create amazing things. With so much in common as small business owners, you’ll come up with many, many shared issues, ideas, connections and insights together.
Think of something that’s been holding you back in your area. Customer parking, pavement space, advertising opportunities?
If you can join forces with other business owners, you’ll more easily come up with solutions – and you’ll have a lot more weight with your local council. It’s a problem halved, a network doubled, resources pooled.
3. Growth partnerships
Connecting on a partnership is a great way to promote each other, but also generate more business. Their loyal customers become yours.
A lovely one in my area: my local coffee house now prints a 10% discount for the pizza shop just up the street on their receipts. They announced the partnership on social media. The owner of the coffee house saw I’d liked the post and we ended up having a half-hour chat in his other local business: an art shop.
Guess what? I’m a small business, too!
How to connect with your local small business owners
1. Support by visiting and spending
In-person chatting. The be-all-and-end-all of local connection.
Go into businesses and appreciate their setup, buy things, be a customer. Chances are, they know of your business, so starting a conversation is easy.
2. Connect on social media and promote each other
Big brands interacting on social media – bit gross. Local small businesses interacting? Adorable and powerful.
We’re more invested in our local communities than we were pre-pandemic. We’ve watched businesses struggling to survive, watched them adapt to hard situations so they could keep supporting their customers.
Businesses hyping each other is just great vibes. The lovely side-benefit is that your activity on other businesses’ social media sends their customers to you, and that’s even without reciprocation. Get into the habit of engaging with your peers and it will pay off.
3. Join your local Chamber of Commerce
Your area’s Chamber of Commerce organises local businesses into a force that can make change happen. It’s an important relationship with the local authorities, so joining can help you get things done.
But don’t only do this. The Chamber of Commerce is the official consortium of local business owners, but connections made over coffee and cake are going to have even more power in this venue.
4. Organise a get-together
Let’s not call it a networking event. A networking event would probably work just fine but this is about connecting, not networking.
Once you’ve done the work of visiting local businesses and chatting, you hopefully have a foundation on which to build connections. You’ll also have an idea of who’s going to be up for it and will bring something to the table.
Don’t go it alone
So much of our stress and worry as business owners could be solved by looking around us for inspiration and solutions.
Take a half-hour break and go talk to the people around you.