THIS YEAR has been pretty shit…how we can all help small businesses

I know, I know. The year hasn’t ended yet but I feel I can safely say that 2023 so far has been pretty dire for the majority of small businesses. And, to be perfectly honest, although the year is not yet at its end, I can’t see any glimmer of something spectacular in the few short weeks remaining. 

However, I am not a monster. I know this year has been pretty awful for ordinary people, not solely those running a business. Let’s face it, just trying to pay for 3 ½ minutes of electricity is on a par with your mortgage or rent. I am an ordinary person, too. I understand. The only living thing which eats like a fucking lord in this house is the cat. 

Despite this, I am a small business and this is a small business website so I am going to discuss in this blog why we need to worry about…small businesses.

Will the last person to leave, switch off the lights… 

It was at this point in the blog where I was going to impress you with statistics about how many businesses have closed in 2023. However, on searching the internet, I realised I needed a) more time to find this out and b) more intelligence than I have to decipher all the charts and graphs. Therefore, you will just have to humour me when I tell you that lots and lots of businesses have shut up shop this year. The ones I know of have all cited the cost of electricity, but let’s face it, it’s increases in fucking everything. Except air.  And I wonder how long that will remain free. 

If 2023 was a flower arrangement…

Quirky Shops and Craft Beer

So this is sad for businesses. But why should you care? I mean, you can still get what you want, can’t you?

This is why: small businesses give you something different. Think of all the times you have visited a quaint little town in the UK or abroad and what did you like about it? Chances are, it’s all the little quirky shops there are, selling things you don’t normally find. Or, when you go to a pub, how often do you try the craft beers made by small breweries? I don’t think anyone ever, would be heard saying ‘Barman, I don’t want any of that craft ale shit with all its depth of flavour and uniqueness; give me a nice pint of John Smith’s.’

In short, at the very least, small businesses give you something different. And in this day and age where the internet and social media is saturated with…well, people, don’t you want to have something different? Something not everybody else has? Small businesses give you that.

They also give to the local economy. A successful small business will spend its money locally, keeping other small businesses in 3 ½ minutes of electricity.

And another thing? Without small businesses, there will be fewer jobs. The more of them that close, the more people are looking for employment elsewhere. What happens with fewer jobs? Less money being made to spend in the economy. 

I’m not perfect…there’s a surprise

Listen, I am not saying you should never spend your money with big firms. Let’s face it, we don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to things such as…electricity. Also, businesses like Amazon are cheap and convenient. As much as I hate contributing to Jeff Bezo’s rocket fuel, I still do. I am trying to curb this but what I’m saying is that I do it too. 

So what’s the solution to this? As I’ve said earlier, it’s shit out there. Some people really are in the situation of having to choose to eat in the cold or not eat and be warm. Others are just worried and are spending less to feel a bit more in control of a world which is consistently showing itself to be anything but controllable. But there are still things you can do to support small businesses.

How we can all help small businesses

  1. Social media: comment and share business posts. Even if it’s just to say ‘I love this’, or ‘I saw you in town the other day and I have to say, you look really quite shocking in black’ (don’t say that – that’s cruel). Don’t have time to comment? Click the heart/laugh/wow emoji. This all helps with the dreaded and really fucking annoying social media algorithms.
  2. Leave a review. If you have shopped or used a business, no matter how big or small your purchase, leave a review. You can do this on Facebook (if they use it, otherwise that would be weird), Google, TripAdvisor or Trust Pilot. It may take you 5 minutes but it will make so much difference to the business you are leaving it for. Just do it in the daylight to avoid the cost of putting the lights on when it’s dark.
  3. Sign up to email lists. Showing an interest in a business by signing up to receive their newsletters can really help. If you read them too, that’s even better. How? Well if a business has lots of sign-ups, it gives them a boost; a bit of hope. And, if emails are opened and read, that also helps the mood of the person who has written them as it makes the sender feel they are at least being listened to. Obviously, it needs to be a business you are interested in; there would be little point in Suella Braverman signing up to receive information from a tent supplier for example.
  4. Visit fairs and exhibitions. I know there is this feeling that you are ‘expected’ to buy something. I used to feel like that, too before I started fusing glass. But, like with the newsletter, showing an interest is just as lovely. Your interest, even without parting with money is hugely valuable and greatly appreciated. 
  5. Buy a card. We all send a card occasionally. Consider sending one you have bought from a small business. The added bonus of that is the recipient will be hugely thankful that you have considered them enough to buy a card which isn’t the same old shite with the same old jokes WHSmiths have been selling for the last 35 years. 
  6. Spread the word. If you know of someone who would benefit from a small business you like, let them know. 
  7. Pick up a business card. If you are the sort of person I mention in (4) above and the thought of not buying anything makes you cringe, then here’s a tip: pick up a business card. That way, you have shown an interest. And, if you do have a friend who you think would benefit, pass on the business card to them. Easy. 

So, there are just 7 small ways you can help independent business in the shiteness that is Brexit Britain in 2023. Hopefully 2024 will be a little less bastard-ish and who knows, maybe you’ll be able to buy 5 minutes of electricity for the same price as your mortgage. How’s that for optimism?