shop local

By John Meyer

For entrepreneurs who are just starting out, an important component of their short term success will be how well they adapt to their respective communities. Does their given good or service fill a local niche? Does the business present reciprocal benefits for other local startups? Can the specific locale support another small business venture? A wealth of additional inquiries remain to be answered, but entrepreneurs should pay close attention to potential opportunities of aligning themselves with like-minded local entrepreneurs.

Think of the concept as mutual reliance within a business community. As you take stock of what your startup offers to customers and your home area, consider how you can strengthen your business foundation and reputation within the small business community through sourcing. Here are some ideas to consider:

Food and Beverage

If your business focuses on edibles and/or perishable goods, give careful thought to utilizing local merchants for various foodstuffs and related supplies. From beekeepers to wineries to farmers, you may find a large number of vital component services available from local owners/operators. Check your Chamber of Commerce and educate yourself on local businesses that you can tap into and develop mutually beneficial relationships with.

Printing and Computer Services

Local print shops are an often-overlooked resource for entrepreneurs. From coupon circulars to general advertising needs, local printing services can provide essential paper goods and serve as important cogs in every small business’ marketing operation. Similarly, localized computer companies can offer web development, tech support, etc. with a personalized touch. Small printing and computer businesses will usually extend favorable rates based on project volume, and offer a name-to-a-face relationship — something lost with larger companies.

Employment and Taxes

Depending on the scope of your business, you may have a need for employees. Two of the best sources for quality staffing are local schools and personnel agencies. Whether you’re in the market for an intern or a more skilled worker, let your geographic area help you to help your business. Additional benefits will be reaped through the recycling of taxes — those that are paid into the community and also those that are paid out into the community. Even better yet, a need for employees can help to keep local unemployment rates down.

Home Field Advantage

There’s not much better feeling for a local entrepreneur than knowing he or she has positively contributed to the health and welfare of their community. By using local goods and services to serve your area, you will be pollinating your own garden, so to speak. By tapping into local talent for staffing, you will be utilizing homegrown resources and building upon your area’s business infrastructure. Essentially, you will become a vital contributor to an ongoing cycle of small business development in your community.

As you build your small business and plan for the future, do not take for granted the opportunities to be had in your local area. Working with the community can not only generate economically sound relationships, but can also foster invaluable amounts of good will. Look around, and take in the local business scenery, then determine what sources you can utilize and what you can offer in return. 

John Meyer is head of Strategic Partnerships/Marketing at The Company Corporation. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs and connecting them to resources that help them thrive. He is also a political strategist and art collector in his free time. Follow him at @Company_Corp.