In praise of small

Great Little Brands is all about small businesses (although we love big ones too!). The real beauty of small business are that they can make a huge difference to us as individuals, the communities we live and work in and the economy as a whole.  

Many small businesses, this one included, are set up by one person. The reasons for starting your own business are many and varied from wanting to turn a hobby into a business, to providing interesting flexible work which fits with other responsibilities like child-care, to needing to find employment post redundancy. For me, the reason was simple – I wanted to do more than the cleaning and laundry that came with caring for a young family and running a self-catering holiday let. I wanted to reconnect with my professional self – who had worked in marketing, service delivery and e-commerce. I realised I had used many of my skills from  my old life in my new one when we set up Brooklinn Mill Holidays. Starting your own business requires a leap of faith, but there are so many reasons why it should be encouraged:

Flexible working

For many parents or carers finding work that fits with our responsibilities is a challenge: long commutes, short school days, school holidays (14 weeks last time I counted), medical appointments and so on conspire to cut down the available hours for work in the formal working day. Finding part-time work can be a huge challenge, but when you also want to do something that draws on those hard-earned professional skills and qualifications it can seem totally impossible. Setting up on your own can give you chance the do both.

Creativity and innovation

Small businesses can foster a real sense of creativity and innovation. The need to make the most of scant resources of money or time can make for some really creative solutions – whether its working with partners in collaboration, thinking through a business problem whilst cooking the dinner or designing and making beautiful, original products.

Fulfilment, empowerment and satisfaction

The effects of long-term unemployment on health, wellbeing, earnings and communities are well-documented. So too are the links between under-stimulation and depression. Setting up a small business can provide focus, stimulus, empowerment and a huge boost to self-esteem. Not to mention earning a living too.

Skills development

Running your own business requires a wide range of skills (and the self-awareness to know what you aren’t good at). Whilst that can seem daunting, it is also an amazing opportunity to learn new things, and there are ever-increasing sources of support, advice and learning for small businesses too.

To grow or not to grow?

It can be a huge dilemma for small business owners whether to grow or not. To grow can mean more revenue, but also more risks, costs and for the business owner less time spent doing the thing they love as they become managers rather than workers. Staying small and being the best you can be is just as big an achievement as growing into a global business. Staying small and focused, providing opportunities to others in the local community and providing a living for yourself and the people you work alongside is an amazing and wonderful outcome.

Big starts small

None of the big businesses of today started off big. It can be easy to overlook that household names today started, very often with one person working in their bedroom or at their kitchen table. From Jo Malone to Richard Branson, Facebook to Mashable they provide the evidence that big starts small. And that for me is one of the really powerful things about small businesses: you just never know which one is going to be the Next Big Thing. It could, as they say, be you – or me – or the woman down the road.