Small businesses the backbone of economy
Spring is around the corner and you might need to stock up on new-season essentials.
Perhaps you need a new wardrobe or a healthier pantry. Before rushing off to your nearest shopping mall, look local and support small businesses in your area, not only on Small Business Friday (7 September) but every day. Small businesses are the lifelines of every community. If we don't support them, the economy suffers, and we miss out on great benefits.
Unique products and services
Small businesses exist because the founder identified a gap. This could be transport to schools in the area, or a home cooking service that delivers freshly prepared meals to your door. Small businesses sell high-quality, locally produced products, manufactured in small quantities.
If you need to buy a gift for someone, visit the local market to find something unique and special rather than something anyone can own if they visit a big retailer.
Unrivalled customer experience
Small businesses have a smaller customer base, which means they're likely to go above and beyond in their efforts.
If the owner of the local bakery knows you love her cherry pie, she'll make sure there's always one in stock. When you form these types of relationships, it can quickly start to feel like you're supporting family, which makes your community stronger.
An opportunity to develop your area
A significant portion of the money you spend at a local small business funnels back into your community.
Small businesses also support each other, creating a ripple effect for growth.
The more a small business grows, the more jobs it can create for locals, helping to reduce poverty and crime in your area.
A chance to give back
Small businesses give back to the local community, not only through job creation and supporting other businesses, but also through corporate social responsibility.
Whether it's allowing young people to job shadow, picking up litter in public areas, or donating food to an old age home, there's usually a small business taking the reins.
A chance to grow the economy
SA's economy is under pressure. Supporting small businesses is the best way to indirectly play your part in economic development. Small & medium businesses make up 91% of formalised businesses. They provide 60% of all jobs and contribute roughly 34% of GDP. In other words, they form the backbone of our economy, which means we should support them as much as possible.
And because they sell unique products and services, they help to diversify the economy and stimulate innovation. This means you're funding great ideas and ventures outside mainstream, corporate chains.
Starting and growing a business is hard work and takes a tremendous amount of risk. The government recognises the important role small businesses play in the economy and has built frameworks to support them, but we need to play our part, too. The best way we can do so - apart from buying from them - is to talk about them. Tell your friends, families and networks about the excellent products and service you got.
Let's get the ball rolling this #SmallBizFriday. Remember, buying small adds up to big returns - for you, your community and the entire economy.
*Viresh is the vice president: new customer acquisition (small & medium businesses) for Sage Africa & Middle East.