Business and consumer expert Kate Hardcastle explains why she's launched Indie Business Live...
As a TV business pundit it is my job to offer insight, clarity and a balanced opinion on the financial news of the day and what it means to us, the consumer.
Over recent weeks, news headlines have featured famous retailers and restaurant chains announcing closures and jobs cuts, not just because of the Covid-19 crisis, but also as they reevaluate their business models and adapt to a different world. These announcements have a real human cost - job losses impact families economically, and more empty high street premises has a knock-on effect on surrounding businesses.
Yet sometimes we have to note that some of those brands were out of touch with the changes already afoot, with regards the shift to online shopping and the changing face of the high street.
Two in five small businesses may fail because of the impact of coronavirus and among these, there will be a small number that perhaps just could not be saved, no matter what intervention. However, we can’t look at a small business in the same way we view a big national chain, as the 5.8 million small businesses in the UK play an essential role in our local communities and economies.
They need help to stabilise and survive, because those business owners are the ones more likely to use local suppliers, they are proven to be more engaged with their communities and because they return back to their home as our neighbours.
I have spoken to and supported over a thousand small business owners across the UK and listened to their stories. Single parents who have set up their own business to create an income when no work could be found in the hours available. Professionals made redundant way before retirement age, who have not only felt the financial impact, but who have suffered with their mental health whilst looking for work. Young entrepreneurs who may have not ticked the right academic boxes, but have the passion and skills to make a go of their own business when no-one else would give them a chance.
Small business is a doorway to opportunity and hope for so many, but the road can be tough, the financial reward very limited and the dedication it requires should not be underestimated.
Those small businesses are always the ones to find the funds to sponsor the local junior footballs team’s kit and a prize for your charity raffle. When Covid-19 hit, they were the heroes of the hour - fixing NHS nurses' plumbing without charging, pivoting their businesses to make PPE and hosting online story-telling sessions for time pressured parents.
They didn't strategise, work out the long-term advantages or try to monetise something.
They just did it.
It is now our turn to support them. We have to come together to support and use our local businesses, act as ambassadors for the good work they do and make sure they feel their worth.
That is why this Thursday (30 July) we launch Indie Business Live - an initiative to engage the nation in a celebration of all local businesses, whilst providing a voice for the millions of small business owners out there that think they have none.
Join us for a day of entertainment and celebration as we shine a spotlight on our small business heroes and create new partnerships and collaborations to help future proof the lifeblood of our local economies and communities.