Great customer service and community connection are just the beginning when it comes to shopping with small businesses.
There’s nothing small about the impact small businesses have on our economy. According to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), they comprise 97 per cent of all Australian businesses, employ over 40 per cent of the workforce and account for more than a third of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Beyond being a source of income and employment, small businesses are an integral part of our communities, says Lisa Belcher, vice president small merchant at American Express. “If we want to see them continue to thrive, we all need to put our money where our mouth is,” she says. “Back the businesses in our backyard and shop small.”
Need more convincing? Here are six reasons to support small businesses.
1. Community connectedness.
Last year’s The Economy of Shopping Small: Keeping it in the Community report revealed that 42 cents of every dollar spent in a small business flows back to the local community – as salaries to local residents, payments to local suppliers, and sponsorships that support local schools, charities and other initiatives.
“When you’re next buying milk from your corner store, you’re positively contributing to employment, the small-business supply chain and your local community services,” says Belcher.
2. All in the neighbourhood.
How often do you judge a suburb by the businesses lining its high street? Cafes, hairdressers, boutique clothing stores: these outlets give a neighbourhood its unique look and feel – differentiating it from other areas and even impacting the value of nearby properties.
Championing small businesses helps maintain the character (not to mention lifestyle offerings) of your local community.
3. Customers first.
While large businesses can analyse customers’ spending habits with sophisticated data collection tools, Belcher believes it’s the personal approach that sets small businesses apart.
“It’s the barista who knows your regular coffee order, or the butcher who suggests the latest cuts they know you’ll like,” she says. “Relationships in small businesses go beyond the transactional, and staff tend to go above and beyond to service customer needs.”
4. Responsive to feedback.
Eager-to-please small business owners listen to customer demands. If a particular item is popular, they’ll always have it in stock, or even source a new item if it’s requested. Plus, if you ever have a question or concern about your purchase, the chances of speaking to the owner are high – a perk that major retailers simply can’t compete with.
5. Personal fulfilment.
The recent Ageless Entrepreneur report by Xero found that almost a quarter of Australians have a side hustle. Financial incentives aside, many people are driven to side hustle by a desire to increase career fulfilment or become their own boss; for others, it’s an opportunity to create a new product or service.
By backing such operations, you’re not only helping people realise their ambitions, you’re also facilitating a more diverse marketplace.
6. Six degrees of separation.
With around 2.1 million businesses driven by entrepreneurs, chances are you know someone who runs a small business. Supporting them is a way to acknowledge the risk they’ve taken.
While running a small business can be incredibly rewarding, Belcher says it’s not free from challenges.
“From getting an idea off the ground, to recruiting staff, keeping up with evolving technology or staying ahead of the competition, maintaining and growing a business is tough,” she says.
“That’s why it’s more important than ever that we don’t take them for granted.”
Find out more
Shop Small, founded by American Express, is a nationwide movement that brings together support from the business community, governments and consumers to support small businesses.