Think Small for a Big Change
By Chrissanne Long
What’s all the fuss about buying local?
There’s been a lot of discussion about supporting the local businesses that make Polk County unique recently. Why?
The first answer is the most obvious: By focusing our attention on supporting our local businesses, the entire community benefits. How?
Those businesses have more capital to do more things in the community. Research shows that $45 of every $100 spent locally actually stays in the community, as opposed to $15 of that same $100 when spent at corporately owned stores/big box stores, whose owners do not live in the communities in which their stores are opened.
Local owners sponsor local non-profit events, their owners and employees contribute to the community by giving their time as board members for local non-profits, sponsoring little league teams, and supporting other local business owners in their efforts.
Local businesses don’t have the benefit of brand recognition when they open a new storefront. They don’t enjoy a ready-made customer base, or have any advertising dollars allocated by a corporate budget to promote their grand opening. Oftentimes, small business owners have spent most of their money just to get the business opened, and have little left over to effectively advertise.
Traditionally, getting the word out was an expensive endeavor. But today, with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and other social media websites, a community of like-minded, committed citizens can make an enormous difference by collaborating and spreading the word about the great things happening in the community.
Almost all of the coverage and business they earn is based on the community’s support (word of mouth) and business relationships. Normally, these monumental moments are quiet affairs, shared only with the close friends and family members who are committed to supporting them. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was stronger community support for ALL of our locals who endeavor to bring their new, innovative products and businesses to OUR community?
Think about the excitement and buzz when well-known, national stores open. People camp out in and cars wrap around the buildings. However, when a small business owner launches a new business and celebrates their grand opening with a ribbon cutting, or other celebration, barely anyone knows about it. Why? What makes the biggest difference is familiarity. Brand recognition is priceless. Local businesses have to build their following from scratch.
And, unless they have money left over to join business networks like the local chambers of commerce, professional organizations will likely not step up and share the excitement that they have just realized what, for many is a life-long dream: opening their own business. Keep your dollars local by buying local – support small businesses.
Lakeland resident Chrissanne Long is the owner of Marketing System Blueprints, creator of Lakeland Business Leaders, Polk Cash Mobs, and is a local champion of small businesses throughout the 863. She believes it’s time that Polk County came together to support the community.