Communities require willing helpers

Listen to communities and reverse bad trends.

When communities need urgent attention

Businesses will always come and go, but, communities need to preserve their business environments and the services they provide. Business closures must be avoided because they can lead to the decline of the community. Surrounding centres  capture the local customers when there are business closures. Like your car needs to be serviced regularly for best performance, businesses also need to be serviced. Businesses are the engine room of every community .

Sluggish communities need to become more adaptive to the realities of new technology and the global economy and community leaders need to become more agile and adaptive. All communities have a diverse range of retail stores, tourist attractions, manufacturers, community organisations and service providers.  community problems, frustrations, wants and needs all need to be addressed and adjusted.

While the majority of businesses are independently owned and operated, but there will be many things they have in common. Some businesses will be unique to the community. Unique enough to attract out-of-town visitors and the support of the community?

A healthy community needs to have many different kinds of activities. Activities such as commercial, retail, restaurants, sporting and recreational facilities, services and residential. This brings a variety of people into the shopping centres and other areas of the communities which keep them functioning well.

It’s businesses, along with the coffee shops and restaurants that draw shoppers and travellers to the area. They help to create the bustling and growing communities. But without the hustle and bustle, the communities will decline.

Community leaders should always pay urgent attention to make sure any vacancies left by strong business people are filled quickly. There is nothing more depressing than going into communities where there are many empty premises. Landlords need to be supportive of finding new tenants, not just hanging out for the ‘top’ dollar.

Communities need to work with the ‘sponge’ cities and towns

Local businesses need to be very sensitive to the activities of ‘sponge cities’. Bigger communities that draw a communities customers away. Larger cities with more variety and superior customer pulling power, are a real threat. Learn more about competing with the big guys.

For communities to really thrive, they need that mix and be very sensitive to the problems, frustrations wants and needs of the people. An imbalance in the business community can easily turn customers away. This intensifies the competition when a particular segment is not balanced with the size of the community. For example too many restaurants over and above the needs of the community, visitors and tourists.

Some communities have been lucky to have a strong retail environment. Compared to other areas they have enlightened community leaders and landlords. People can protect key businesses by supporting them and welcoming a diversity of businesses to make up the right mix.

When it comes to healthcare and social services, smaller communities will always find it hard. However, it’s a matter of finding ways and means to encourage people in the smaller communities to ‘shop locally’. It is unfortunate that most people are unaware of what shopping locally means in the longer-term. A few dollars saved today can never make up for the demise of a community.

Greedy landlords can pull down communities

It’s not uncommon for short-sighted landlords to put up the rent by 30% to50% a year, to satisfy their greed. This is always at the expense of the whole community, not just the businesses involved.

Businesses don’t always have control over when they may have to do things, such as moving from the community. They would probably have stayed years longer, but could no longer exist under the demands of the landlord. This is unfortunate as often they are older established businesses. People who have played a supporting role, or mentored other businesses in their communities.

As these mainstay businesses close, an important piece of the economic fabric of the community is lost. In many cases never replaced. Everybody loses, including the landlords.

When buildings are vacant, there is pressure to rent to the first person who comes along. This is often done without consideration to the impact on the overall community and other businesses in the area. The landlord may make less money and the council fewer rates, but they protect the community.

Listen to the communities and reverse bad trends

There is always a ‘tipping point’ when people decide enough is enough. They are sick of the landlord, sick of the poorly administered local government, along with the apathy of other businesses. Businesses who don’t lift a finger to help the community, need to be motivated. Encouraged to reverse their bad attitudes. Leaving them to their own devices, or avoiding them does nothing to help the cause.

Communities need help

Don’t start the ‘blame game’ everyone depends on everyone else.

It’s challenging for businesses when faced with competition from online ordering, shopping malls and big retail chains. Everyone needs to be conscious of the challenges and help where they can. Retail is particularly challenging as businesses learn how to operate in the global economy. Goods can be purchased more cheaply and delivered in a few days, right up to your front door. It is possible to fight back if businesses in the communities set up their own online marketing, with local appeal. If they are well set up they can attract much more business internationally than from their local community.

Goods can be purchased more cheaply and delivered in a few days, right up to your front door. It is possible to fight back if businesses in the communities set up their own online marketing, with local appeal. If they are well set up they can attract much more business internationally than from their local community.

If they are well set up they can attract much more business internationally than from their local community. It’s great for the community as the community can trade at a level bigger than their own community would support.

Some business owners still find good innovative opportunities and perform well against the competitive forces. But, many are not and this is not healthy for the communities. More support needs to be given to the businesses to help them to make the necessary changes, in order to grow and prosper.

Listen to the community’s problems, frustrations, wants and needs and then do something about it. This includes every individual,  business,  not-for-profit, landlord or government body.  Everybody is in this and communities are more likely to thrive and survive if they work as a team.

Fixing communities in trouble

There is a very large cost associated with the cheapest price, as many communities have found out. Everyone needs to keep it local as much as possible, no matter where they are in the world.

No one said building a business was easy. The price can be high if there are no entrepreneurial skills involved. Many business founders have found out the hard way. With the exponential change taking place with globalisation and technology, the years ahead may be tough. Many communities and businesses lacking entrepreneurial skills will suffer. However, the opportunities are increasing for those who do have them. How entrepreneurship comes into play.

People love a bargain. But at a high cost if associated with the lowest price. It creates the opportunity for external companies to take money out of local communities. Supermarkets, national chains and Internet marketers, chase the lowest price and the community gives away the money. This money could circulate locally and create jobs and wealth for you and your community.

There are many customers who understand this. They acknowledge the wonderful benefits of supporting local businesses. You must thank these people and hope they spread their enthusiasm. Supporting their local businesses, by buying local and within their communities is critical in small communities. They need to be there for tomorrow, but they can’t justify the lines and ranges of the bigger centres.

The future of communities

Academics and governments tend to discuss how global forces shape the choices you need to make about your communities. They do this rather than understanding and acting upon the problems, frustrations, wants and needs of the real people who live there.

It’s great to think in terms of ‘regional development’ and ‘community  strategies’. But it is the individual choices and actions that are the primary drivers of our communities. Economic Gardening is an entrepreneurial approach seeking to grow the local community from within. It focuses on drawing on the existing strengths and talents, rather than relying on external influences and sources.

Without large capital expenditure, growth and business prosperity is difficult. It can only come about through increasing entrepreneurial participation. This requires a catalyst, providing everyone with endless opportunities.

The internet and globalisation are threatening local business, economies and therefore your communities. More prosperous communities are stronger, more resilient and capable of adapting to change.

Never forget that businesses and not-for-profits are…

  • The backbone of your local community.
  • Generators and circulators of the local wealth of a community.
  • Major employers and event organisers.
  • Committed to their local community.
  • First to support their community.
  • With the right tools and support, they are very agile.

There is a lot of merit in the following actions we can all take

  1. Keep the money in your community – When you spend money outside the community, the community becomes that much poorer.
  2. Make your money circulate – Research shows in poorer communities money transacts only once. In wealthy communities, it circulates many times.
  3. Pay a sustainable price – There is a high cost to the lowest price. Make sure the price you pay is fair, leave something in it for the other person.
  4. Be a contributor to your community – Contribute by becoming involved. Communities need to access and build their social capital.
  5. Communicate effectively – All have stories, they are part of the fabric of each community. Share and promote your community effectively.
  6. Help those who need help – A prosperous community looks after its own with the right services and initiatives.

Quotable quotes

“I realised if you can change a classroom, you can change a community. And if you change enough communities you can change the world”. Erin Gruwell

“Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together”. Paul Ryan

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