Tag Archives: growth

How you can support small businesses without spending money!

9 Sep

It’s becoming increasingly fashionable to shun the big corporations and support local businesses where we can.  It can be easier said than done though, we are all pushed for time, and it’s so easy to nip to the supermarket or go straight to Amazon to buy everything we need in one hit.  When I went on maternity leave, one of the things I was most looking forward to was simply having time to buy fresh bread from the local bakery instead of getting supermarket bread!  And for the first few weeks it was great, I bought my bread from the bakery, had a vegetable box delivered by a local farm, bought lovely handmade cards and gifts from the small shops in my local town… but then my little baby who slept all the time became a big boisterous boy and I discovered the wonders of online shopping!

I still try to buy local where I can, and through my role of Enterprise Coach with Opportunity Plus, I am forever meeting entrepreneurs who make lovely things that I want to buy!  But spending money isn’t the only way you can support a small, local business (though it certainly helps!!).  Here are some ways that you can support small businesses, without having to spend money!

1 – Interact with them on social media.  Getting a new like on Facebook can brighten a small business owner’s day, and only takes you a second to do.   But likes aren’t everything.  Commenting on and sharing posts helps to increase a page’s “reach”, meaning that more people see what they have got to say.  If you have bought something from them, post a picture of you using it, or let them know how much your friend loved their gift.

2 – Write a review.  This could simply be a recommendation on their Facebook page, or a post on their wall; but if you write a blog, why not write about a positive experience you’ve had with the business, or about the great product you bought from them.  If they like what you have to say, it’s likely they will link to it themselves, bringing you more readers too.  Win-win!

3 – Tell y0ur friends.  Your real life friends and family that is.  Often we share our bad experiences of customer service, but how often do we tell the story of a good experience?  Not the times when something out of the ordinary happened, just the simple friendly greeting when you entered the shop, or the time they spent with you helping you find the right gift for a friend?

4 – Have a chat.  If you can see the owner is looking a little bored behind their friendly customer service smile, have a chat with them.  Even if you’re not intending to buy anything, you can give them an indication of the products you like and don’t like – it’s all market research for the owner.  (I buy in slings for my business and have to choose between about 50 fabrics each time, it’s impossible!  So I appreciate people telling me their favourites, even if I know they aren’t planning to buy one.)

5 – Follow links!  If you see a mention to a business on a blog or elsewhere, click on the link and follow it to their website.  As well as increasing their website traffic, it shows the search engines that this is a website that people want to visit, which can help their website move up the rankings.

Easy!  Just don’t forget to use the small business yourself when you need something they sell!!

What small businesses would you like to show support to?  Comment below and tell us about a good experience that you’ve had with a small business, and don’t forget to put a link to their website.

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Young Entrepreneur to watch out for!

26 Nov

Carmen Croxall runs The Very Vintage Hire Company, hiring out vintage and retro items to weddings and other events.  Carmen has built this business from scratch in just over a year whilst she was just 24.  She now hires out to events every weekend and is brimming with ideas for the future.  This girl is one to watch!

How did The Very Vintage Hire Company start?

14 months ago I was selling cake stands at pannier markets, and someone brought a large order for a wedding.  I realized I could sell in bulk to brides and grooms.  But the constant making of beautiful items was rather time consuming and there is a limit to how much one person can make and sell, so I thought why not hire them?  I was a single mum and a student and I was literally living on the breadline.  So I brought crockery as and when at the cheapest price could find.  I started to build a collection of vintage china. Then saving money, and spending most of my student loan I reinvested in stock and it just grew!  Now, after many changes to the business we have units full of stock, several members of staff and bookings up till 2015.

What is the best thing about running your own business?

The best thing is the raw belief that one day I will make it big and all the hard work with pay off.  It may be hard but its the most exciting, satisfying thing I have ever done. I have met some amazing people, been involved in some great ideas and learnt so much already, and it’s only just the beginning.

What is the hardest thing about running your own business?

Keeping on top of everything! Because it expanded so quickly I’ve had to actively discourage bookings over winter to sort the infrastructure to so it will be able to cope with another summer of huge demand.  I advise everyone to have a backup plan if things suddenly take off.

Are people surprised when they find out how young you are?

Yes, I am often met with disbelief.  Sometimes when I meet people I can tell they are a bit skeptical of me until I get talking. I once arrived at a business meeting and got directed out of the room as the people there thought I had wondered in lost!  I have even been mistaken for my own PA!

How do you market your business?

Social media all the way.  I have created a Facebook page, website, twitter account, youtuble channel, linkedin profile, pintrest profile and ebay business seller account and keep these updated daily. I have learnt use quality always over quality, don’t spam your followers and likers with irrelevant posts. Don’t share other businesses photos and posts, create your own. Give your audience shareable content not repetitive or boring or self indulgent. Great photos, engaging and relevant unopinionated posts get me an average of 10 new likes a day on facebook.  Also paid Facebook advertising engages my target market.

What are your plans for the future?

So much. Having realized that I can do it, it feels like nothing can stop me now. I am currently working on some exciting viral marketing campaigns and a brand new company. I want to continue to work hard and build an amazing future for myself and my son.

https://www.facebook.com/vintagehire

http://www.veryvintagehire.co.uk/