It’s a subject that isn’t often spoken about at business conferences, but the close interrelationship between community and business is close to the heart of Sally Themans of Good2Great.
Good2Great, is a local business support consultancy based in Bridgnorth with a focus on 2 key aims. Sally Themans explains, “We help businesses at all stages of their lifecycle: from start-ups to growing and coaching long-established businesses.
But we also believe in working on the ‘places’ where businesses are based: helping towns promote themselves better and bringing the communities and the businesses together.”
Sally has demonstrated her commitment to developing ‘places’ over the past few years by focussing her attention on the ‘Love Bridgnorth’ and ‘Love Wellington’ projects. More recently, she has begun work on a new ‘Love Shifnal’ project.
Sally comments, “It may not be immediately obvious, but we believe that individual businesses, and the communities they operate in, are deeply connected. It’s a key link which businesses need to understand.
“Thriving businesses lead to thriving communities, and thriving communities in turn support flourishing businesses.
“We all know that the village with a great pub and a bustling shop is a better place to live. Or a town with a well-run leisure centre, a small theatre or cinema, a library or even a great hardware store, makes for a great town.
“This interconnectedness is clear. We want to see our ‘places’, communities and our businesses succeed. It’s a symbiotic relationship. When businesses and communities are deeply interconnected, they feed off each other’s successes and collectively drive growth and prosperity.
When we talk about community, we’re not discussing the physical aspects like picturesque gardens or town boundaries. Instead, we’re focusing on the relationships, the bonds, and the shared identities that bind people together in a particular locality.
It’s about that sense of belonging, common interests, and a collective investment in making our places thrive”.
Sally’s advice to businesses operating in the towns and villages of Shropshire is clear: whilst growth and ambition are essential for a business, so too is taking the time to understand and foster the benefits of staying grounded in its community.
So, what are the advantages for a business involving itself in community life?
Sally highlights three key benefits:
Firstly, there are economic benefits. Sally comments,
“When you support local suppliers, hire local talent, or collaborate with nearby businesses, you inject money directly into the local economy which ultimately benefits everyone.
Secondly, it builds trust and loyalty.
“People tend to have a strong sense of loyalty to businesses that they know and the businesses that are known tend to be ones that are actively involved in their communities”.
To illustrate this further Sally highlights the work that she and the team at Good2Great recently led on when they repurposed a vacant building in a prominent position in Bridgnorth to create a vibrant new co-working space called The Printworks.
“We thought it was important to do this both for the High Street and the local community and we managed it through the not-for-profit arm of the business.
“We were humbled by the support we received from the local community: residents turning up to help us clear the building on a Saturday morning; local businesses lending and donating furniture or offering services in return for business advice.
“It was incredible and we believe it’s a result of the relationship with the community that we have cultivated as a business over the last 15 years .”
Thirdly, Sally says it offers tremendous networking opportunities,
“You can meet potential partners, customers, or collaborators in your own backyard. These relationships can help fuel business growth”.
So how can business better engage with the communities in which they are based?
Sally suggests 5 ways businesses can actively engage with their communities:
1. Local Sourcing: Whenever possible, source materials and services locally. Use the local insurance broker, the local graphic designer, bookkeeper, paper supplier etc., whenever you can.This not only supports other local businesses but also reduces your carbon footprint.
2. Community Involvement: Sponsor or participate in local events, charities, or any cause that aligns with your values. It shows your commitment to the community’s well-being.
3. Engagement: be around! Encourage employees to volunteer – or volunteer yourself! Or at least participate in community activities. This boosts morale and also strengthens your reputation. Make sure you engage online too! Use social media to connect with local people and other local businesses. Attend local networking events.
4. Collaboration: See if you can partner with other local businesses for joint marketing campaigns or promotions. Buddy up with other businesses. Support each other. This cross-promotion benefits everyone involved. Together we are stronger.
5. Listen and Adapt: Pay attention to the needs and concerns of your community.
Find out what’s going on and what’s important locally. If you need to, adapt your business practices to address these issues and demonstrate that you are listening and responsive to local feedback.
Sally believes that if businesses engage with their local communities, they foster economic growth, build trust, and create lasting bonds.
She comments, “Let’s remember that while reaching for the stars, we must also stay firmly rooted in the soil from which we grow. By doing so, we not only secure the success of our businesses but also enrich the communities we call home.”
For more information about Crowdfund Shropshire which supports and funds community projects see: https://www.vcsvoice.org/latest-news/introducing-crowdfund-shropshire/ or email email@example.com
To find out more about the UK Shared Prosperity Fund see: https://www.investinshropshire.co.uk/relocating-and-investing/uk-shared-prosperity-fund/
If you are looking for support for your business please see https://www.investinshropshire.co.uk/relocating-and-investing/business-support/