One thing that I noticed after living and working in the area for over 15 years is that there still seems to be a lack of ‘togetherness’. Yes, there are the odd networking events and annual events like Blackheath Fireworks that bring the community together, but for businesses, there seems to be a lack of business networking opportunities (apart from The Blackheath Luncheon Club and The South East London Chamber) and an overall absence in the desire for new businesses to meet each other, especially competitors . Some may wince at the thought, but if you are trying to turn over a profit, it pays to know your neighbours, even though they may be selling a similar product. I have always had the ethos, having ran my own restaurant, that if another opens up opposite you, it’s a good thing! It will of course, bring more people to the area as they have more CHOICE.
Choice being the operative word. Customers want choice. A chance to choose where they spend their hard earned money, to choose where they eat, shop, drink and have their hair done. This in turn puts more pressure on local business owners to understand and know their customers better, to be able to offer what they want.
I twisted my clients arms, (Chandler Wright) who graciously hosted the first local businesses event in conjunction with Small Business Saturday in December 2013, #smallbizsatse3. I had heard about Small Business Saturday on the online grapevine and was alarmed that Blackheath and our surrounding areas were doing nothing to mark the occasion. The ‘shop local’ concept is one true to my own heart and having worked with small businesses for many years, it seemed like the perfect way to reach out to a larger arena. #smallbizse3 was born and we had a lovely group of local business owners attend and I am sure I can speak for all involved, that it was both worthy and productive to share a glass of bubbles with our business neighbours and to speak about how we can all work together to unite local businesses.
Of course, there are many plus points in having a united front. We can talk about what things we would like to change, for example, we spoke about bringing back, what used to be, a real event to the ‘turning on of the lights’ in Blackheath village; we spoke about when there used to be healthy competition on ‘who had the most amazing window display at Christmas’ etc. There was a ‘Christmas’ theme it being December, but Heidi Alexander, our wonderful MP for the Labour Party and Kevin Bonavia from the council both agreed that things needed to move forward in a more cohesive fashion. This was music to my ears and so my work has largely been to engage with the local business owners to offer more collaborative ways of working together, especially online and this will now be at the forefront of the business owners minds who attended the event.
This isn’t corporate clap-trap, or about ‘keeping up with the Jones’ nor is it about spying or stealing each others ideas. This is about forming an alliance. Fruitful partnerships that can last a lifetime with the main aims of supporting each others efforts in marketing, promotion and profit-making. There is enough cake for all of us and as soon as we adopt that attitude, positive chance will happen.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
We hope, for #smallbizse3 that it will now develop, gain a larger audience and work generously in planning a more ‘social’ and ‘connection-based’ way of working. We are, of course, living in the social age and without conversation, connections and support, most of these wonderful businesses would die a short-lived death.
If you are a local business (SE3, SE10, SE13, SE12, SE9) and would like to get involved in our local co-op, then please email me with an introduction to your business and we can get our heads together! We also hope that you will join us on the next #smallbizse3 event (details to follow) and get to know the owners local to you. The opportunities are endless and your profit margins are very much likely to rise for your efforts!
You can join the conversation on Twitter and help support each other using the hashtag: #smallbizse3. You can also subscribe to my Local Biz Twitter List that is steadily growing with all the local businesses daily tweets.
Become a friend of #smallbizse3 and join the other local businesses that are already involved on Twitter.
Offer up ways in which to combine marketing efforts and find mutually beneficial opportunities to collaborate with your fellow businesses.
Follow your fellow businesses on Facebook and support posts and promotions.
Attend all the #smallbizse3 events in 2014!
Show your support by adding your email to the mailing list here….
Blackheath Wine, Neals Yard Remedies, Clarendon Studios, Spirited Wines, Brake Bikes, Warren King Photography, Fergus Noone, The Railway Pub, Strada, Maggie Flockton Hairdressing, Chapters, Blackheath Day Spa, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers
Online PR UK hosts a Digital Clinic for #smallbizse3, whereby business owners can present their marketing difficulties and get on the spot answers to questions and help in marketing themselves in a more profitable way online. Online PR UK has a growing database and a wealth of experience and creative ideas on how to accommodate small budgets and push up your sales and are also at the forefront of digital marketing industry. Andrea Britton is a resident speaker and advocate at the annual Digital Marketing Show at Excel.
Let’s work together to put our business communities on the map!
Small Biz Saturday 2014 will be held on Saturday 6th December 2014. Venue TBA.
#digitalclinic #heidialexander #SmallBizSatUK #strada #brakebikes #blackheathwine #blackheathbusinesses #smallbizsat #kevinbonavia #nealsyardremedies #therailwaypub #clarendonstudios #spiritedwines #hortus #maggieflockton #warrenking #chandlerwright #blackheath #smallbizse3 #fergusnoone