Let's create a Big Society for small business

 

Look, we're not political gurus, but 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 proposal 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 see). 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 hiring errors - as well as the 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 tricky issue 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 or guidance. 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 heard
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 things happen. Write to your local MP, email the Forum of Private Business and Federation of Small Business, 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 for.
http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/new
And go to relevant networking events for your sector (read our feature on how to find those 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, your kudos, reputation and resultantly your brand will flourish. And you'll should get a nice feelgood buzz too.

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 see).

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 or guidance.

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 heard

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 things happen.

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 for.

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.

 

 

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