We all buy products and services every day. Why not try to purchase these from other small businesses so we can help each other succeed. This strategy has worked in immigrant communities for years. While it may not be cost-effective at first, it is an investment in your own business. Reciprocity is hard-wired in human nature.
Why isn’t easy? Two reasons – cost and competition. By definition, small businesses don’t have the economies of scale to effectively compete on price like larger competitors online or off. As a result, costs are usually higher. Consequently, because they aren’t as competitive, they can more easily be pushed out of business. Therefore, the best way small businesses can help each other succeed is to create a network. Your neighborhood local chamber of commerce or LinkedIn are all great places to start.
While there are several factors working against helping other businesses succeed, there are a few ways which are working in our favor. The increased adoption of e-commerce by small businesses provides greater access than ever. This is also why a network can be helpful.
A small business network is a powerful way to help each other succeed. How do you do that? Simple:
Get to Know Your Neighbors. A walk or a drive around town can be very enlightening. See who is there. Walk in the door and get to know them. Helping other small businesses succeed in your community pays dividends in the long-run. Not only can your neighbors recommend you, but you also help the local economy create jobs, and make your neighborhood a better place to live.
Go On-line. If you want to help a particular kind of small business succeed, start by looking online for directories. For instance, if you want to buy from women-owned businesses, Hispanic-owned businesses, or LGBTQIA businesses, you can find directories devoted to these types of business owners.
Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful B2B tool that you can use to help other small businesses succeed. You likely have small business owners in your network, and you don’t even realize it. Putting out a request to your feed can help start building these links. If you want a less techy approach, you can use your local chamber of commerce or other business/professional associations.
When you boil it down, business is about relationships. Relationships are sticky. They tend to be resilient. Remember, reciprocity is hard-wired. We’ve built client relationships via referrals both to and from our business. It may cost a bit more to buy from a small business, but it is an investment in relationships. You never know who will be wildly successful, or from where a great business idea or opportunity might come.
Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkedIn profile