Tag Archives: high street

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.

Is the High Street making a comeback?

29 Apr

I was walking through my home town of Teignmouth the other day and was struck by how many new shops and cafés seem to be popping up.  Not so long ago, every time I went into town it seemed like another business had closed down.  At one point, I think there were more empty shops on our main street than there were open!  It’s really good to see the town coming back to life, a new Morrison’s recently opened, and I think a lot of people were worried that it would be the end of the town centre, but thankfully it seems to have had the opposite effect.

Similarly, in local Exeter, when Princesshay opened, a lot of the High Street shops started closing down.  But now, most of the shops on the High Street are open, and there are lots of new shops in the area.  Hopefully this is a sign of things to come, and we will start to see less empty shops on our High Streets.

With the growth of Internet shopping, there is less of a need to go into town centres to get what we need.  Shopping from home can be quicker, you don’t need to worry about parking or getting your items home, and you can shop around before making a decision.  But you lose the experience of shopping (which, if you ask me, is an experience that should be maximised and enjoyed as much as possible!), you can’t try clothes on, you won’t pick up things that you wouldn’t normally, you can’t choose your own fruit and veg, and you can’t chat with the shopkeepers.

As a business it makes sense to have an online presence as well as a shop.  You can use this to stay in touch with customers, let them know about special offers or new products/services, and just generally remind them that you’re there!  Hopefully you will be able to offer some kind of shop, even if it just sells gift vouchers (for example if you have a café, or are a hairdresser) so that you can gain some additional sales.  The easiest way to get started online is through social media – simply setting up a facebook page or twitter feed.  Get in touch if you need any support getting started – call us on 0800 043 2440.