“Support Small Business”, But why should we? Words from a Small Business Owner.

Jamie McIlhatton
2 min readDec 7, 2022
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

During times like this, especially in the run up to Christmas; you see the same message reappearing. “Support your local independents”, “Support Small Business”. Of course they’re statements I can get on board with, but it’s not really that simple, is it?

Part of me has always rejected these statements. Businesses shouldn’t need this kind of sympathy vote. It’s up to us as operators, to build something that people want and are willing to pay for.

News of businesses closing are showing on my timeline every single day now; it’s a battle out there for us to attract & keep customers. It’s not enough in these times to just exist and expect support as a small/local independent. We need to go deeper than that.

Afterall, people don’t spend their hard-earned money on sympathy; we want a great product and the feelings we get from buying it. As owners, we need to create emotional connections with people, and that’s essentially what it is to build a brand.

People rarely associate small businesses with the word ‘Brand’, especially with Bricks & Mortar. But there’s no reason why a local shop/restaurant can’t tell a story, just as a larger organisation might.

Now’s the time to lean into who you are as a brand, regardless of how small. Hospitality & business in general in this country is becoming more and more saturated; the barrier to entry is the lowest it’s ever been. That means we need to work harder to be noticed.

Add into that the complications of a recession and you’re seeing consumers being more specific about how they spend their money and where they go to do it.

Your brand is yours. No one else’s, and that’s the power of it. Without brand, once you’ve achieved a high-quality product, there’s very little else that sets us apart from each other. Not to mention, running a company through a recession knocks a chunk off you; having a very clear and solid ‘Why’, will keep you moving when the future isn’t looking too rosy.

Jamie McIlhatton

Sustainability Consultant and Owner of @smallmatterofsustainability // A Restaurant owner just trying to take my own advice...