The real reasons why Small Businesses work with each other…
For those of you who know us, you will know that we bang on about the power of small and micro business in Britain. Those employing less than 10 people (60% of whom don’t employ anyone) make up some 94% of all British business and yet we hear very little about them. There are pockets of brilliance on social media who talk about creative industries or campaign for small businesses (often SMEs) to get heard by government but their contribution to all our lives and communities is still under represented in the mainstream media.
This is the place to read just a small selection of those stories – businesses working together for a better life, community and out of love for what they do.
Andy Taylor has been a member of Simply when it was a simply business network in our home county of Staffordshire and he started out, like many small businesses, by working with a wide range of clients in his graphic design business. As time went on though, he realised the heart of his work was with small & micro businesses. Read on to find out the real reasons why working with tiny businesses is the key to the success for his new business – A Spark, A Flame, A Fire.
Why I started working with Small indie businesses.
Small business owners have a certain spirit, an excited passion and desire to succeed on their own. I see it in others and I feel it in myself.
I always wanted to run my own business, because I felt I could live life on my terms and and achieve a sense of pride and a work life balance that I just couldn’t when working for someone else. Over time I’ve found that you work for Big business but you work with Small business. You build relationships that often see you helping a friend, rather than a client. The result is that you are able to really make a difference.
When I joined Simply Great Britain (or Simply Staffordshire as it was back then) I thought it was a good opportunity to meet people through the kind of networking that suits me, informal and friendly and without the constant hard sell. I was right about that of course, as other members will know, but I learned something much more valuable. Simply GB is home to so many brilliantly talented people, a lot of whom are creatives too, so I fit in perfectly. After a time I began to work with a few members. Small jobs at first then I became trusted enough to work on logos and branding for them. Through all that I found that the level of impact I was having on confidence in their own business was more than I’d experienced before. The work we did together gave them a sense of pride and helped show their talents, ideas and products in the way they deserved to be shown, attracting new customers along the way.
When people buy from small businesses, they buy their stories too. Telling stories helps to create a real connection between business owners and their clients or customers. This is something very important to me, something that even when studying for my degree in Graphic design, was at the forefront of the visual communication process. Knowing the story by heart and then being able to tell it through visual language. Small businesses all have interesting stories, I’ve learned that from spending time in their company. But graphic design that is based on trends can mean that all of their stories may look the same from the outside, to the people that matter; the customers.
Often, as small businesses get started, design isn’t always at the forefront in the minds of the client. And I understand how that happens. It’s not a skill that everyone has of course, but also it might seem like an unnecessary investment. During my time working for Larger companies, I often came across the same scenario where the client had had previous design work created over time, logos, brochures, banners and so on with no initial investment in getting the overall look, feel and tone of voice really sorted. The result is often a collection of design work that needs improvement as it looks, in the clients words, “unprofessional”, or that isn’t suited to the business as it has grown. Now they are faced with the decision to have everything redesigned to really draw attention their business as they try to compete. To work with smaller businesses allows me to have a greater creative input from the beginning and ensure that future proofing is considered part of the process too. I have, for many clients, become a sounding board and tech support too, almost a part of their team in fact.
Ultimately, though, I’ve chosen to work with smaller businesses because of the very real human connections I make and the satisfaction of knowing that my services can, and have, made a real difference to my client’s businesses and lives. To see their confidence grow and their belief in their business reinforced is a greatly satisfying feeling. Their goal of being independent and achieving something for themselves is a goal I share wholeheartedly.