The Forgotten – Small Businesses in Small Communities

Rural

The Importance of Small Business

The UK has 4.8 million registered businesses, of which 3.6 million are sole traders. That means 75% of all UK businesses are sole traders and shape our economy, commerce, innovation and small business communities. To prove the importance of small businesses here are some fascinating statistics from the Federation of Small Businesses:

• 97 % of firms employ less than 20 people
• 95 % employ less than 5 people
• Over 500,000 people start up their own business every year
• Small firms contribute more than 49 % of the UK turnover
• 64 % of commercial innovations come from small firms
• Small firms collect and pay Tax, NICs, VAT and other dues which help pay for public services

Some published statistics are often dressed up with flowers and sprinkles, but I look at the above statistics and wonder why there is such a lack of focus and attention on Micro-Businesses. Small businesses in small rural communities simply do not get essential business support from the UK government and lack any real focus from larger private businesses. Why? I believe it’s because there’s a belief that small businesses are too much work for little financial return. As usual it’s all about money – Capitalism rules the day and the little guy is priced out of the market.

Isolated

Small rural businesses operate in isolated conditions far from our city centres and towns, and far from available support from government and commerce. Mary Portas and the government promote the “Save our High Streets” campaign with little thought about rural villages and communities.

Clusters of businesses in cities thrive as competitors induce competitive spirit, innovation and collaboration. Many incentives have been promoted by the UK government such as reduced rates in High Street shops and reduced NI rates for employees, but what if you’re a sole trader working from home with no employees?

It’s called SOLE Trader for a reason – you’re on your own.

Why we should admire and support small rural businesses

Starting up your own business demonstrates Entrepreneurialism whilst boosting local employment, business start up and survival rates. Small business owners offer unique products & services, unlike the homogenised shops and products available in every High Street.

Small rural businesses have drive and take risks to start up their own businesses, without the need for government funding and business support. In a turbulent economic climate where more businesses look for external support, isolated small rural businesses operate independently and have the drive to succeed in the toughest of conditions. Small rural communities would struggle to exist without small rural businesses and more should be done to support such a valuable commodity.

Community Values

The world’s population is growing and our major cities will become overloaded as a result, but rural communities will also begin to grow. Small towns and villages is where our kids will grow up, families will live and people enjoy a more intimate tranquil way of life.

I’ve lived in bustling cities and have experienced the difference in the way of life of rural living. There’s a togetherness and community spirit which thrives in rural communities that simply does not exist in the rat race of big cities.

CSR is no longer a buzzword where big businesses write a paragraph in their year end reports to satisfy shareholders. ALL businesses of ALL sizes need to embrace community spirit and demonstrate community values by being committed to the very communities they serve.

If ALL businesses engaged and trade with just one small rural business a month then we will begin to experience more thriving, prosperous and self sustaining communities that will enrich our way of life.

Do you think rural businesses and communities are important? What do you think would help support rural businesses? Your comments and opinions are warmly welcomed.

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2 thoughts on “The Forgotten – Small Businesses in Small Communities

  1. Consider the way a clarinet is made.

    The French model is used universally except in German speaking areas. It is made in a factory by a process that Henry Ford would recognise.

    The German model is made in a workshop where five people work. One of them owns the business and personally tests each instrument before it leaves the workshop. Traditionally, only then, when he is satisfied, does he finally stamp the firms name (his own name usually) on it.

    The price to the customer is not dramatically different. Job satisfaction for the staff almost always is. Quality often is better too.

    Nothing much is spent on marketing, advertising, dealers commission and the like. The customer comes back for maintenance and forms a relationship for life recommending the maker’s instrument to his pupils. The maker gets feedback. There is no city centre shop. There may not be a shop at all.

    We need more things made in workshops, not factories.

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