We often write about small businesses because that’s what our clients are, what we are, and what our local economy is dominated by. We’ve just come across a Small Business Community Impact study which is so interesting, we have to share more of it with you!
5 themes come from the research:
- Small businesses act as an agent to change communities and create significant social value
- They create opportunities, not just for profitable gain but helping to stimulate further benefits to society
- There is a lack of recognition of the work and contribution small businesses make
- Because the business is small it is personal, leading to strong positive community outcomes driven by personal relationships
- It only takes a small number of key individuals in a community to drive business connections and community outcomes
Some of the other interesting points the study makes include:
Staffing: 30% don’t recruit staff either online or through recruitment agencies, choosing local contacts in preference. And 36% have kept a member of staff on when commercially they didn’t need them – because of a sense of responsibility.
Training: 78% create training opportunities for their staff – and 28% create training opportunities for the wider community as well!
Business Support: external business support is not reaching small business. 74% turn to friends and family for help, 72% turn to other small businesses, and less than 2% – yes, that’s TWO per cent – turn to Government for support.
Connections: in small towns, like around here, 76% of small businesses are part of a business group. Just 14% work with local government, and 9% work with the Local Enterprise Partnership (possibly an overstatement for this area!)
The report identifies many opportunities for small business, central and local government. Of course, whether these are taken up by central and local government is debateable and we shouldn’t be holding our breath. But for us, as small business, we do have the power to take up these opportunities:
- To engage more with local and national institutions to get better recognition for current social impact initiatives
- To work with others to explore ways to deliver more social impact in the future
- To share and promote where the business is creating opportunities in the media and with local institutions
- Leverage the advantage of being small in attracting staff and customers
- Get greater recognition for the good works done by business in local communities
- Work with local organisations to develop better ways of gaining formal recognition
- Leverage local relationships to drive customers and staff loyalty to the business, as against big business
- To become a ‘local spark’, to help motivate, connect and inspire the local business community
- Tap into ‘local sparks’ to engage in more community wide activity