Many of us already know that the sole trader, micro and small business community is where we must look for the changes in our fortunes. This is on a personal level, local community level and a national level too.
There are often clamours for more support for the small business, changes in legislation and tax breaks for those taking the risk of setting up a business and often going it alone. Makes sense doesn't it? If we're going to dig ourselves out of the hole we are in, then encouraging the small business with incentives will help them grow, it will drive employment up and make a massive difference.
... plus... It is a known fact, entrepreneurs in general will look at all other possibilities before taking on staff as a last resort. If you are self employed with a skill (doing something you love) you might just get hired for projects as a supplier though... A glimpse into the future there...
So... What is a good way forward for self help for a small local business?
We are all part of the local community in which we live whether we choose to run a business or not, and if you are in business it's great to be able to meet others also in business. But you know what? 70% of what goes on in the community is nothing really to do with local business and herein lies a huge problem. Business and community are undeniably linked very closely, and yet there is virtually no mechanism for business and community to engage on a regular recurring basis.
Asking large corporates and shareholders to 'donate' their profits to community voluntarily was always going to be an uphill battle. Perhaps the concept of helping out with the local community ought to have been directed elsewhere... at a different audience.
When respect and reputation go before you, so do recommendations and referrals. People refer people they like, but if you are a giver too? Go straight to the top of the referrer board! By raising your profile through community engagement local businesses are effectively delivering CSR not necessarily through monetary donations, but through interaction and time.
With local small businesses leading the way, helping to rebuild our local communities, taking an increasing share of business from the multiples perhaps corporates will begin to learn the message of CSR. It would appear the only time big business listens is when something affects negatively the bottom line.