Are you #open4biz during the London 2012 games? By @FSB_HQ for #IndieRetail

It’s been a big year for us Brits with the Queen’s Jubilee and now the 2012 Games hitting our shores. It’s a year that should be giving small businesses the chance to thrive, grow and diversify – running and jumping to gold with the opportunities in front of them. After all, we’ve had our fair share of grim news in the past few years.

Small businesses have fallen foul of branding rules ahead of London 2012

However, it’s not been so straightforward. Small firms are at the mercy of overzealous branding rules of the London 2012 Games. They have been penalised and many have been too scared to grab the opportunities in front of them.

Some news stories have suggested many businesses will shut up shop for the length of the Games, choosing instead to flee from the mayhem. Others have been forced to close.

An award winning events, hospitality and watersports company, trading in London’s Docklands since 1985 is being forced to close for seven weeks and move its vessel to allow access for cruise ships coming into the Royal Docks. The owner, an FSB member, has had to cancel all her customers’ events and will have to undertake extensive work to move her boat. Yet, she will receive no compensation to make up for her drastic losses from all this upheaval.

Awful though this is, we also know that many small businesses will be open and aiming to thrive from the opportunities the Games should offer them.

For instance a Scottish tour company said on the FSB’s Crowdmap – which is showcasing small businesses open during the Games – it is expecting a visitor from Texas for a whiskey tasting tour while en-route to the Games. In another example, a health and safety training company has seen a surge in people signing onto their courses; and a lifestyle management firm is expecting to be busy as it helps people free up time to attend the Games.

While not all businesses expect a huge increase in trade, many are using the opportunity to raise their spirits during the tough times. A fudge company based in Kent is holding its own 2012 Games for customers and staff, with events including “the fastest to eat two full slices of fudge” and “quickest to construct 10 six slice boxes”; finishing off with a “going for gold” race.

Let’s not forget it is the UK’s army of small firms that will ultimately pull the economy out of recession.

We all know that the high street as we knew it 20 years ago has changed. More space is devoted to chain stores or shops simply lying empty. The credit crunch has played its part, leaving gaping holes in many once-thriving towns. And because of this and the growth of out-of-town retail centres and expensive parking, it means fewer people are visiting local high streets for their day-to-day shopping.

But there is hope on the horizon. We know that there is still some real optimism: that small firms want to grow in the next 12 months. Let’s not forget it is the UK’s army of small firms that will ultimately pull the economy out of recession.

There is work going on to help improve this following the Portas Review into high streets. For instance, a National Markets Day and Love Your Local Fortnight helped over a thousand aspiring entrepreneurs try out their business ideas at over 300 markets. 27 town centres have now been selected as ‘Portas Pilots’ tasked with coming up with new ideas to breathe life into unused high streets. And Small Business Rate Relief in England has been doubled for two-and-a-half years.

For now though, we have a real opportunity to support small businesses by using them throughout the London 2012 Games, and encouraging tourists to use them too.

We want to see more businesses taking part in activities and for people to use the butcher, gift shop and travel agent on their local high street. This is why we have launched a campaign to showcase small businesses that are open for business during the London 2012 Games. We really can help to boost shops in their local community.

Want to put your business on the map? Tweet us using the hashtag #open4biz and go to the crowdmap and fill in the form.

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About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
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