This is an update of an article I wrote nearly a year ago. Nothing much has changed when it comes to the challenges rural businesses face. Finding common ground with complementary businesses and adopting a collaborative instead of a competitive posture is a solution to some of the small business challenges. If you run a small business and looking for ideas to find collaborative partners in your local community, I’d love to speak and share ideas with you. Please leave a comment beneath this article. Thanks

Living in a small Somerset town has really opened my eyes to the local business economy. I do my best to support local businesses in my own way, including making as many purchases as possible locally. I also run a local business directory as a way to promote small local businesses on the internet. The last couple of days I have been thinking about how local businesses can survive through difficult trading conditions. These could be anything from seasonally quite periods to increased competition from large supermarkets and out of town shopping centres. This short article will explore one idea I think will give small business owners something to think about, collaboration and the exploitation of complimentary services.

Instead of seeing each other as competition, small town businesses should find a way to work together to serve their customers to the best of their abilities. This achieves two things:

  1. Greater customer satisfaction and strengthening of loyalty to local businesses
  2. Revenues for the businesses involved from a source neither would have gained from

They say every great idea has been done before and I totally agree. The example that readily comes to mind is the local photographer teaming up with the cake maker and the florist to provide a “wedding package”. This comes to mind because my partner makes the best cakes in Somerset and is in talks with a local wedding dress shop owner to “share” her brick and mortar shop and provide a one-stop-shop for brides to be. Still operating as separate businesses they have the opportunity to create a reputation as a single point of contact for wedding dresses and cakes while still serving their own clients. Their businesses complement each other and they are not competitors in any sense of the word.

Another great example, in my opinion, is beauty and cosmetic surgery going into partnership with a bed and breakfast or “luxury” accommodation provider to create a “Beauty Weekender Package”. This package could be something like a weekend of beauty treatment offering a selection of treatments the clinic offers. Of course, accommodation is provided as part of the deal. With clever marketing and targeting, this could provide enough work for both parties.

Once you put some thought into this concept you will find a lot of these synergistic opportunities exist in a lot of small towns. A lot will depend on the state of relationships with other businesses in your town and the creativity of the individuals involved. This article is a thought primer, the spark that ignites the flame of collaboration and will save the small town local businesses. If you have any other ideas please feel free to share them via the comments. Love my writing style? I am available for writing assignments and would love to hear from you. Follow me on Twitter @TeamChiwanza. Thanks for reading and good luck

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