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.