Sometimes when I go shopping I see signs for things that are grown locally and think that means actually in Lancashire or really in about a 10 mile radius but apparently it means the UK. Many big supermarkets even use the word local in their title as though it means the produce is local as well but really it just means we are amongst you.
In many areas of life we are implored to cut our carbon footprint and do more things at a local level but what does that really mean?
Local should be about things being nearby but when it comes to health it often means the town centre. It should be about community and the views and flavour of our immediate area but who knows what those views really are?
How do we get to really involve communities and make sure the local voice is heard? Is it that actually we will hear those who are most vocal or is there another way to let people have their say and engage in community projects and change?
Democracy doesn’t really mean anything unless and until that happens. Local government should be just that local and it should be about what is really happening to us as people who live in the community.
These are big questions particularly when as a business, charity or social enterprise you want to really engage at a local level. Meetings will only go so far because many people simply dont go to them any more. Reaching out and really engaging takes many routes and should involve as many communication strategies as can be employed.
At our Big Local launches Facebook was the people’s choice of communication tool for keeping in touch and understanding what is going on but that may reflect the people who attended the launch. When people use it to chat that will show it works but in the meantime we will keep it going.
Ultimately being local takes hard work and patience. I am reminded of a story I once heard where a woman working in one of the reservations in America was trying to work with native Americans who had alcohol problems. She set up a meeting place and time and let people know, people who had said this was what they wanted. No one came. She didnt care and sat at every meeting for months and into a year and finally they came and the meetings are now flourishing.
What she showed was that she would stick it out and that she wasnt there for the short haul or even because she was a do gooder but that she meant her intervention to work and she would stay the course no matter what. People were impressed.
Local is hard but worth it in the long term. It is a long term strategy and should be done with patience and care.
CBPartners is up for the not-for-profit award in this years Red Rose Awards and I thought it might be a good idea to consider why awards are good for business. Sometimes going for an award can seem like a lot of work for very little return but actually the return can be measured in a number of ways.
1. Getting an award is good for employees
Staff in a company who have won an award feel that their hard work has been recognised. There is an increase in team spirit and pulling together for something worthwhile. Staff can also feel that their work has been stamped with approval and it can generate an incentive to continue the good work. Getting an award can allow a team to pause and reflect and consider where to go next.
2. Getting an award is good for customers
It is always hard for people to really know if something is good before they buy it or access a service and awards are one way of showing that quality is part of the service or product they are consuming. Having an award can also enable customers to feel a shared sense of pride in a business because they will be champions for a good service or product.
3. Getting an award is good for partners, investors and suppliers
An award can provide credible third party endorsement of your product or service and for your suppliers it may also reflect on their help. A company which uses a network of associates may also use awards to pull that network together in a shared sense of achievement and recognition. Partners can see that there is third party endorsement of business success and a commitment to excellence in the business they support.
4. Getting an award is good for raising profile
Awards are always good for raising profiles of business because they can be used in marketing and PR and for any publicity material. Ceremonies for awards can also be a place to meet influential people who may be great for getting your business on the map.
5. Getting an award is proof of excellence
Many awards have a number of excellent businesses vying for them. They can be a means of assessing your business strength against others in a similar field and providing comparisons with others in your sector or that of other sectors.
Business awards are a time for celebration and reflection, taking stock and considering the next phase for a company or organisation. Most of all they are a wonderful pat on the back by someone outside the organisation for a job well done.
Most commentators on Leadership talk about leadership as though it can only occur in the context of large organisations but what happens when you are working with other person or indeed on your own? Do you still need to lead or can you just let things wash over you?
Leadership is a state of being rather than a position and first and foremost it is about personal standards and expectations. When you are leading a team it is easy to see how creating a vision, setting the path and winning hearts and minds is important but on your own it is also easy to think these things dont matter as much.
I would argue that they do matter and that they are as much a part of finding your niche and creating a dream for yourself which is about passion and commitment as at any other time.
Small business leaders have a different set of rules to follow but they need to truly understand where they are headed, what their goals are and their ultimate aspirations. Running a small business takes focus and courage particularly in the current economic climate and both of those are leadership qualities.
This blog has outlined ways to create goals which work and a vision which matters and leading your self and a few others is the next step. As many companies have just sorted their accounts and checked up on their financial health this is a good time to start thinking about how this next financial year will shape up.
Self discipline is a must for a small business leader and vigilance in creating opportunities and making meaningful connections and relationships is another real leadership quality. Our blog this week on being a connector is a case in point. A leader connects they dont follow the linear pattern of networking but they are points in a myriad of relationships which are beneficial on a number of levels.
So take some time to consider this month how you lead both yourself and/or a few employees and what style and culture you instil in your company. Have you created a place you always wanted to inhabit when you built your business or are there things you would like to change? If you are the leader go ahead and change them.