I have a very real concern that small businesses are disconnecting from their communities. Any businesses that do are then just a small step away from alienating themselves from the very consumer they depend on to succeed.
Just two weeks ago I wrote a business coaching article on how I believe small business should make it their 2014 New Year's resolution to get involved with their local community.
As if to underscore the point came the unfortunate story a few days ago about how The Bombay Bicycle Club, an Adelaide restaurant tried to generate public support about the high cost of penal rates by posting a menu showing prices at nearly 3 times the norm.
Their point was that the cost of employing labour on a public holiday was 2.75 times the base rate which was, they said, prohibitive.
Unfortunately that point was missed and the backlash was quick, harsh and severe.
Most comments ridiculed the actual calculation pointing out that the labour component is only a fraction of the total cost. Others focused on the “cost” to workers who were required to work on public holidays.
The sign was removed within a few hours and the restaurant spent the rest of the time trying to quell the outrage on social media.
It is a fact that the small business sector is Australia’s biggest employer with over 40 times the workforce of the mining sector. Therefore Australia’s living standards are dictated by its success.
The issue of penal rates is a sensitive one for small business. But the impact of any change will be significant and, even more importantly, political, and for that reason it is best dealt with through an appropriate forum such as your local Chamber of Commerce.
The last thing you should be doing is alienating the very consumer you are relying on to succeed.
My suggestion is that business owners focus instead on what they do best.
That is to deliver great products and customer service.
And, as I mentioned in my earlier article, get involved with your local community. Engage with non-profit groups and find ways that you can support them. After all, your success depends on your community supporting you.
Donations are not always an option but many business owners have skills and resources that can often be of great value to non-profit groups.
Involve your team, customers and suppliers in the process.
You will be surprised at the difference you can make - and how that support will often be reciprocated.