Following a back-breaking year for most, economies are slowly but surely beginning to reawaken. As we approach the final hurdle, we’re all brimming with hope and excitement, but none quite so much as those businesses that have been unable to open in almost 18 months.
Support for local businesses can come in many shapes and sizes, so fear not – you can still do your bit to help, even if you’re not quite comfortable enough or able to resume old spending habits. Whilst it’s often easier to turn to larger brands, try giving a helping hand to the many local businesses that form part of your community as they may well be struggling financially after such a difficult period.
Research last year predicted that Covid would cost businesses and the self-employed £69 billion, but recent data has revealed that the total anticipated cost is expected to surpass £126 billion. It goes without saying that the pandemic has caused significant financial disruption to a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with almost a million UK businesses having been at serious risk of failure earlier this year.
For many businesses, surviving through such a lengthy period with little to no income has been nothing short of a miracle and it’s important that communities get behind local businesses to ensure their fight for survival was not in vain.
Here are some of the ways in which you can rally behind local businesses and show your support, as remember… in a world where you can shop anywhere, try shopping local instead!
Spare An Extra Ten Minutes To Show Your Support
Many local businesses are buckling under the financial strain that’s been thrust upon them following almost 18 months of little to no profits. Whilst government-backed funding such as CBILS and the Recovery Loan Scheme (RLS) have helped bridge the gap in finances, local businesses will be keen to line up income as soon as possible to try to catch up.
During the pandemic, we helped a local bakery access the popular CBILS product and we provided a £160K loan to help them buy vital machinery whilst they were temporarily forced to close. They are now open and ready to continue providing the mouth-watering baked goods they always did. Yes, it’s often far easier to grab some doughnuts at your local ASDA, but taking a few extra minutes to pop into a local business instead means you’re investing in someone’s dream and the idea of entrepreneurship as well.
Plan For The Future
Some businesses haven’t been in a position to open yet, even if a change in restrictions now means they legally can. They might be getting their ducks in a row, taking the time to rehire a great team or securing a short-term business loan so they can return with the standards their valued customers are used to.
Whatever the case, if you love what they have to offer, get in touch and see if you can purchase a gift card. It will mean you’re supporting one of your favourite smaller businesses immediately and you can enjoy their products or services when they are ready to make their long-awaited return.
Think Local For Your Own Business
If you own a business or are a key decision-maker within your organisation, you have the ability to potentially change someone’s life by choosing a vendor that’s local rather than globally recognised. If you run a restaurant, that could mean sourcing your meat and dairy locally. If you run a B&B, you can choose to partner with a handmade toiletries supplier rather than securing bulk deals from huge household brands.
Even if you don’t run a hospitality or retail business, you can still get behind your community, whether that’s hiring someone local to design your company logo, using a one-man band to do all of your accounting or turning to a smaller legal firm when the need arises. Remember that when you’re supporting a local business, you’re supporting your community too as these businesses create jobs – jobs your inner circle may come to rely on one day.
We previously wrote about how high street businesses can compete with huge brands, so if you or any other local businesses are looking for ways to compete with the mammoth conglomerates SMEs are up against, it's worth a read!
Turn Back The Clock and Go Back To Basics – Spread The Good Word
We live in a world where everything is more easily accessible than ever before. We can buy dinner, a car or even a house, all with a simple tap on a screen. But whilst we’re busy living in a fast-paced world, we forget to pay thanks or acknowledge really great experiences.
Sure, tipping your local beauty salon is a lovely gesture, but telling others about it will generate far more buzz and ultimately money than a one-off cash donation. If the steak at your local is cooked to absolute perfection, let the world know – seriously, well-cooked steak can be hard to come by! Share the good fortune indeed...
Taking a few minutes to write a dazzling review, whether that’s on Trustpilot, Google or even your Facebook Timeline can make a huge difference to a local business… and it’s free! If you have your own business premises, encourage those businesses you have great experiences with to leave a few business cards behind so you can help promote their goods or services – perhaps they might just offer to do the same!
Join Forces and Take On This New Business Landscape Together
Two heads are always better than one and the same can be said about brands too. With so many UK businesses struggling to get back on their feet, it’s likely that a large portion of businesses local to you could benefit from collaborating with other like-minded brands. This is especially true for businesses that target an identical or similar demographic.
Take our earlier example of running a restaurant – your business could join forces with a local brewery or winery. You might be able to secure a better price by partnering with a local supplier, meaning you, your partners, and customers all stand to benefit. You know what they say: sharing is caring and now is the time to care.
Help Them Understand They’re Not Alone
You might know first-hand exactly what other local businesses are going through if you find yourself in the same boat. Or perhaps your sister’s small business is struggling to bounce back, or your best friends, or your neighbours… It’s practically guaranteed that some of your nearest and dearest have felt the burn this past year and a half, so reach out to local businesses to ensure they know they aren’t alone.
For many local business owners, the welfare of their family relies on whether they are able to sell their services or products and the constant worry about feeding their loved ones can be a lot to handle alone. You can’t always fix a problem for someone else but knowing you’re not alone with your struggles always makes living through them that little bit easier.
Most of us are emerging from one of the strangest, most financially challenging periods of our lives, but the part to focus on is that it's finally happening. There is always light at the end of the tunnel but supporting each other makes getting there a little less daunting. We love that we're able to support so many wonderful, local businesses that play an important role in their communities. We understand how important our commercial loans are for the businesses we fund, and similarly, you know the vital role you play in ensuring they get to keep opening their doors to the loyal customer base they've worked tirelessly to build. Together, we can help create better, stronger communities and shopping local is the first step to making that happen.
For more SME advice and tips, read our related posts below. If you are experiencing cash flow challenges or want to realise your business growth plans, get in touch with our team of Funding Specialists today on 020 8038 6612 or email email@example.com.
15 July, 2021