We talk a lot about Independent Businesses because we believe that they are the backbone of our economy. They employ more people in the UK and are more deeply routed in their communities. Many local independent businesses have survived for generations. There are big differences between small local businesses and a large national or multinational businesses and its not about size.

There is also a difference in the attitude of ‘founders’ of businesses as opposed to the managers of businesses that get bigger. Founders tend to have the confidence of their convictions and this can come across as if they are unyielding, uncooperative and less collaborative. This is not always the case and so this article is not intended to offend those with this trait. In fact there is a lot to be admired in the way a founder will forge ahead where others may fear to tread.

Purpose

The purpose of a small business could be to turn a loved hobby into a living, help an executive from a big business to step away and put effort, money and passion into something small or it could be that a small business simply wants to survive and serve the local community. Perhaps passed down to the next generation of butchers or bakers.

The purpose of a larger business is to grow rapidly with the intention to create wealth for its owners, a family or its investors – “If you get in early you could be a millionaire”. The large business mind set may apply to a small business which has the goal to grow. It’s growth may take it away from its town or origin or in some cases its country of origin. Don’t misunderstand, there is nothing wrong with this, the world needs large businesses to thrive. All we are suggesting is that the purpose at the start of Amazon was different to your local grocer shop.

The purpose of a business may affect how deep its routes go within the local community. A small business owner may become the president of the local chamber of commerce and send the children to a local school. Whereas a large business may no longer be owned by the people who set it up and may decide to close an office or factory in a town in favour of another location. Some organisations cannot move so easily for example a large football club. They may have international reach but maintain very deep local routes in their host town or city.

Independence

Independence is the ideal state of being for the founder or creator of a business. If an artist is given a commission to paint a portrait, the painting must be created by an independent person working on their own without any paint brushes appearing over the shoulder to add an unwanted dab of blue paint. Independent businesses, the lifeblood of our economy would not exist without people who think they know best.

A story

A man sitting on a beach of a Caribian island in his scruffy shorts and straw hat was tending his fishing rod with a line in the sea. To his right was a bbq with the latest catch cooking and now ready to eat.

Another man, dressed in brand new shorts, shirt and flip flops approached and started talking. Presently the fisherman offered the visitor some fish and a little wine to wash it down. They spent a few hours chatting and drinking wine and eating the catch. Before long, the guest remarked upon how delicious the fish was and said “hey you know, if you had a bigger catch you could sell to the local market” indicating with his thumb pointing towards the village.

The fisherman thought for a little while and said “and then what?” – the guest continued enthusiastically as if he had had some sort of epiphany. “Well, this would give you extra income and enough to invest is a fleet of boats” the guest continued, laying out a wider vision of more boats and a business supplying to all the major hotels in the region “you know,” said the guest “you could become a millionaire”

The fisherman thought again, as he looked out upon the beautiful blue of the sea. Then he asked again “and then what?”

The guest was shocked at this response and the need to explain. “Don’t you see? you would be famous. You could have enough money to retire and do anything you like spending all day …..”

“fishing on the beach?” The fisherman interrupted.

Conclusion

Some business creators set out to conquer the world and some succeed but many simply want a small business that they control in a manner that they see fit. After all they have the conviction, they are confident that what they are doing is correct. They feel comfortable in what they are doing and if things go wrong (which happened during Covid) they feel that they can adapt.

It’s this conviction that makes local independent businesses so important to their communities. Everything is exposed, the muscle and sinew, the blood and the veins of the business are exposed for all to see with every early morning visit to the wholesaler, or delivery from a manufacturer. The eyes of the local business owner rarely exposing their fight to keep going, rarely exposing their heart as they wrap the gift you bought for your partner.

The price to pay for independence is high but the founder would not have it any other way. The rewards for being independent are shared with the local community who’s property prices remain high because a range of independent businesses are an important factor as to why one area is desirable and another is not.

The true heroes of the pandemic are of course the medics, nurses and public servants but include the shopkeepers, the bakers and the makers and an iron will to adapt and survive.