HELP the economy bounce back by supporting small businesses.
Small firms employing fewer than 250 people make up 97 per cent of UK companies and generate £2.2trillion each year.
They also provide three in five UK jobs.
So we have teamed up with the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) to show you how to support small firms.
Vin Vara, 61, is director of BIRA and owner of hardwear retailer ToolShopGroup.com, based in London’s Waterloo.
He said: “Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and independent retailers, are the backbone of this country.
“Even with the closure of some larger retailers, the retail industry still employs more than three million people across the UK.” You can find helpful advice at bira.co.uk.
Meanwhile here are Vin’s tips for SME owners . . .
- Listen to your customers’ needs, and make sure your business is Covid-secure.
- Regularly review your buying patterns and cashflow.
- Get involved in some community events.
Here are Vin’s tips for customers to help boost SMEs . . .
- Support your local high street. For every £1 you spend, 63p stays local to help your community.
- Do you not usually shop locally? Commit to buying at least one item a month for the next few months and encourage friends and family to do the same.
- Cannot see what you need locally? Shop online with a small firm elsewhere.
THE Sun and Camelot have teamed up to give 50 kitchen table entrepreneurs the helping hand they need to launch their business dream. We are giving away 25 £5,000 grants for existing microbusinesses to help you grow, plus 25 £5,000 grants for budding entrepreneurs to set up a brand new business. You must enter by May 22, at thesun.co.uk/topic/ kitchentable
Team up to buy local
ENTERPRISING Amanda Leigh Slattery owns clothing boutique Destination Maya Maya in Kendal, Cumbria.
During lockdown, she set up the website Mayamaya.co.uk to keep selling and launched a campaign, @boutiquesinbusiness.
Amanda, 56, says: “Lockdown was incredibly tough. Fashion retailers rely on people going out and to big events and all that was taken away.
“he constant changes to the lockdown rules meant we couldn’t rely on the shop being open so we moved online too.
“I think we may experience a short-lived boom but once furlough ends there might be more people out of work and the economy could be in a precarious position.
“If you own a small business, collaborate with and support other small businesses.
“We are not the competition, we are customers too, so we should all buy local.
“If you are a customer, share a small business you love on social media and support our campaign to #buyuniqueshopboutique – it will make a big difference to a small shop.”
ONLINE classifieds platform Gumtree is giving small businesses a boost with its Small Business Blast Off competition.
One lucky winner will take home £10,000, a free Tide Cashback upgrade for three months, a free SumUp Air card reader, a free Builder.ai app and 12 months’ free data, calls and texts on any O2 Business handset, plus a Gumtree advertising package worth £3,000.
There are also two runners-up prizes of £5,000 cash plus the rest of the package.
The platform’s chief marketing officer, Hannah Rouch, said: “This past year has been exceptionally difficult for many entrepreneurs and small business owners. We want to celebrate them and arm them with a little extra support to kick-start the summer and take advantage of our journey out of lockdown.”
You can enter the competition until May 16 at gumtree.com/info/life/small-business-blast-off
OWN a small business? You can list your jobs for free on our website, Sun Jobs. Visit jobs.thesun.co.uk.
CLEAN up with the help of Fantastic Services, the cleaning franchise giant. They are offering cash grants worth up to £1million to enable 200 people to start their own business within the domestic service industry.
Each grant is worth up to £5,000 and will cover the business start-up costs and training. Anton Skarlatov, the co-founder and CEO of the company, says: “Our grant programme is designed to help those who lost their job and self-employed tradespeople, as well as small businesses within the service industry negatively impacted by the pandemic.”
Apply at fantasticfranchise.com/fantastic-grant
Expert start-up advice
STARTING your own business is never easy, but it can give you the freedom to be your own boss and set your own rules.
Here, MOBO Awards founder and diversity champion Kanya King, who set up black careers platform mobo.com/mobolise, shares her top tips.
- ACCEPT SUPPORT AND ADVICE: Starting a company is hard work – most start-ups fail. You will need resilience and to be relentless. It helps to have the right advisers, mentors and support network backing you so you can overcome the many obstacles you will face.
- START SMALL AND “BOOTSTRAP”: Use as little start-up capital as possible, then reinvest initial revenues back into the business to grow. Funds from family, friends, savings or personal loans are risky – try government-backed grants or the Start Up Loans scheme.
- PREPARE TO MAKE SACRIFICES: You will have to put in more time than if you were working for someone else, meaning less time for family and friends. You’ll certainly end up working harder too, so be prepared for many other areas of life to take a back seat.
- YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING: Be open to new ideas and approaches while staying focused on your main. Most people starting a business do too many things at the same time, spreading themselves thinly. Prioritise!
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