We quite like this Big Society idea from the Coalition government.
We're not sure it will work, but the intentions are right: helping
each other and engaging with your community.
Because that is exactly what Smarta is all about too.
We think small businesses can achieve most when they help each
other out. Collaboration not competition, as we and our founder
Shaa Wasmund always reiterate. So what's say us and you, and you,
and you, try to create our very own big society, for small
business. Here are our two key proposals in a nutshell.
Share your expertise, free of charge
All of you are expert in something. That doesn't mean you have
three doctorates in your chosen field - it means you all have
real-life experience of business situations. You might not have
even started your business yet - but you've definitely dealt with
other businesses as a customer and maybe as an employee too. (Your
opinions matter to people running businesses: you can help them
iron out those niggly things that only customers and staff notice,
those opportunities for improvement it takes outside eyes to
Others among you will be running businesses, and so have
expertise in your sector - as well as all the usual disastrous
learn-from-my-mistakes anecdotes about forgetting to complete tax
returns and the like. You also, of course, have plenty of insights
you've picked up along the way on how to market, how to sell, how
to make your business work.
So share what you know with the people that need it: on Twitter,
in the Smarta forum and Q&A,
face-to-face at networking events. Spend half an hour with contacts
where you can talking them through that fiddly process you've done
a thousand times that's new to them.
Does it get you instant financial return? No. But does it create
a huge sense of goodwill that will in turn come back to you
five-fold? Almost certainly.
The more you help others (and inadvertently position yourself as
an expert in your field), the more willing your community will be
to help you out, when you in turn need a favour or contact details
Also, from experience, the people you've helped will very often
become your customers as and when the time is right.
Be active in your community and get your voice
Britain is known for being a nation of complainers. But moaning
to your nearest and dearest doesn't get the bills paid, and it
certainly doesn't get your opinions heard. If you want change, on
anything from less red tape to better local parking facilities for
you customers, start complaining to the people that can make those
Write to your local MP, email the Forum of Private Business and Federation of Small
Businesses, add to our
government small business wishlist, register for the Big
Society network and start a
petition that goes direct to Number 10 Downing Street via its
website. It takes 10 minutes to write an email - about the same
time it takes to rant to a friend. Use that 10 minutes more
smartly, and you could actually end up getting what you wish
And go to relevant networking events for your sector (read our
feature on how to find
business networking events). Talk to other people in your niche
about problems they're facing: can they alert you to something that
might affect you soon or vice versa; could you club together and
combat the problem; is this an industry-wide issue that needs
someone like you to tackle it?
Take the initiative - if you're known among your sector for
being the person who improves things for everyone, then your kudos,
reputation and resultantly your brand will skyrocket. And you'll
should get a nice feelgood buzz too.