Big businesses are cool and all but we really do love small businesses. Even though the term Museyamwa (a totem or clan name that has been misappropriated to refer to a small black-owned business) isn’t always used in a positive manner, Zimbabweans still love small businesses. There are many reasons why and we are going to explore them as well as give tips on how to use these reasons to boost your small business.
Small business owners tend to be community members who are well known to and in their communities. This aspect makes the small business relatable. This is further boosted where the small business provides a product that provides solutions that the community requires. Depending on where you lived 10-15 years ago the most popular person in the area was likely the local airtime vendor. They created great relationships with community members. Is your business beneficial to the community or just yourself? Find ways to address community needs in your business to grow both its relevance and the bottom line.
Inspire by Taking risk on the community
Among the many qualities of businesses, they take a risk and bet on a community and its viability. Communities are naturally grateful for this show of confidence and for taking a risk on them. Setting up a new business in any community is risky, setting up with a new product is even riskier. Where there is significant business the risk pays off. While I refer to the community generally it is not limited to a geographic community. Consider the success of design software Canva which was created for the creative community. As a business do not be afraid to single out the community you wish to serve and let it be known.
Small businesses create jobs. Around the world, job growth tends to be driven by small businesses and in spite of unemployment nightmare in Zimbabwe you would find that this also holds true here. Small businesses create many opportunities for people to earn a living. The obvious advice here would be to hire from within the community as much as is possible. Easy to envision when the community is viewed as a geographical grouping. But it goes beyond that as hiring from within a demographic that resonates with your customer base can be useful for businesses that don’t operate on a geographic basis.
As a function of being part of their communities, small businesses tend to take to heart the concerns of the communities they serve. This gives them the face of a caring member of the community that is seized with addressing the challenges they face. Who doesn’t love an entity that cares about them? In your business make an endeavour to show that you care. They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care goes the adage. Show your community that you deeply understand their struggles and are looking at providing solutions for their circumstances. Listen and consider customer feedback on situations.
Represent diverse interests
In addition to caring small businesses tend to cater to niches that are otherwise not normally big enough for big businesses to cater for specifically. We’ve seen the rise for example of women-owned and operated businesses which provide solutions for circumstances that tend to be specific to women. In so doing these businesses grow on the strength of the niche rather than its size. To bring it closer to home many Zimbabwean media businesses have sought to provide their news via WhatsApp due to the non-neutral internet bundle situation that many Zimbabweans find themselves in. Do the same for your clientele, find ways to cater to their specific circumstances to bring your product to their doorsteps and your business in their favour.
Innovation is one of those words that’s really hard to define. It can be defined as making changes in an established item or practice by introducing new methods. With innovation can come cost savings, increased convenience and/or new opportunities. What’s not to love? As a small business owner, you should make best efforts to innovate for your community. This doesn’t always mean hunting down the latest technology and applying it, sometimes it’s about repurposing old technology to bring about new ways of doing things.
While small businesses cannot be everything to everyone, you can be everything to someone. That’s why you’re small. Many small businesses eventually go buiafter first strengthening their offering with a specific customer base. So use these methods to leverage people’s love for small businesses to your advantage.