Small Business and Community

Sunday 11th August 2013

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A number of my friends now own businesses of varying degrees of size yet all are what one might term ‘small’. The business types range from advertising to coffee shops to artisan lamp design. It’s curious how they all began, each has their own tale with regards to the motivation, the raising of cash, the risk taken and of course the rewards, or lack of them.

Over the past few years a great many small businesses have failed (including my mums) yet there does seem to a great deal of support for those who want it, or maybe this is just in London. Organisations thought include:

The Federation of Small Businesses: http://www.fsb.org.uk/‎
Small Business: http://www.smallbusiness.co.uk/
Start Ups: http://www.startups.co.uk/

and the Brilliant Enterprise Nation: http://www.enterprisenation.com

Enterprise Nation in particular seems like a great source of information and help, building a community of businesses and offering data, literature and advice on funding.

If businesses continue to fail then is the current support enough? I wonder if it is local enough for most people.

Along the lines of local support I do wonder about the role of community in building or even starting a business. The current political ideology of ‘Big Society’ must surely begin with mini socities, ie: local communities. Within each community I would bet there are residents who posses a wide variety of skills and a wide variety of disposable income. Now suppose there was a means by which skills could be pooled and shared and funding raised in return for some equity in local businesses?

Local people help local businesses get off the ground and also create a collective responsibility for the success of those business all the while by passing the banks……I think it sounds promising. It’s not a million miles away from the Muhammad Yunus idea of Micro Finance, indeed his book ‘Banker to the Poor (http://tinyurl.com/kjfcfmy) really kickstarted my mind in thinking about the role of community.

With that in mind, I am thinking of starting The Small Business Collective. I have no idea what even this means at this stage, but the idea of a group of people backing local businesses and offering support in various aspects in return for some of the reward seems like a good idea. Maybes it’s not a good idea of course. My research begins.

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