The message of “buying locally” is arguably at its strongest when aimed at the general consumer. For small businesses, the issue of utilising local suppliers and services is slightly more complex, with multi-faceted questions of cost, efficiency and quality all having to be considered.
That said, studies and statistics consistently show the degree to which the Australian public values supporting local firms. Forty-six per cent of Australians believe buying locally is the most important thing individuals can do to strengthen the economy, while nine out of 10 citizens feel loyal to at least one small business in their local community.
For small businesses to enjoy local custom, it is surely best that they themselves patronise local enterprise. Here are some further benefits of doing so.
Building the local economy
When local firms do business with one another, the “flow-on” remains in the local economy. According to the Tasmanian Small Business Council, the economic multiplier from local purchases is four times that that would occur if transacting with a non-local source.
And on a national scale, according to the Australian Made campaign, for every 1 million dollars invested in new or retained business in the domestic manufacturing industry, $333,900 worth of tax revenue is created, as well as 10 full-time jobs. Small business stands to benefit hugely from such healthy local and national economic conditions.
Your business’ carbon footprint will be vastly reduced by using local suppliers.
Enriching local culture
Many local communities have their own histories, traditions and culture, often encapsulated and preserved by local businesses – whether they are taking advantage of a region’s particular produce or qualities or not. Using local partners allows such businesses to stay afloat and evolve, strengthening the characteristics that define a community and helping to maintain diversity in the face of globalisation and widespread outsourcing to overseas suppliers.
If a small business relies on local suppliers (ideally through face-to-face communication rather than online), a relationship built on trust, familiarity and personalised service can ensue. The advantages of this include the establishment of new networks and contacts, speed and efficiency of service thanks to a supplier’s familiarity with your business, and the possibility of special discounts and savings.
Your business’ carbon footprint will be vastly reduced by using local suppliers. Delivery and collection can become a matter of a short, personal journey rather than trans-hemispheric flights.
Both supporting sustainability and showing a commitment to maintaining local character can have a significant impact on a business’s image and reputation, potentially attracting new customers.
Barnaby Smith is a writer and journalist who has written for a variety of publications across several subject areas in the UK, Australia and Switzerland.