Schrödinger’s cat came to me when I read that small business confidence in Scotland has hit an all-time-low, while simultaneously the number of Scottish businesses reached an all-time-high. Just like the paradoxical cat, one could argue they are both alive and dead.
In October the Federation of Small Businesses found small business optimism in Scotland fell from +3.3 to –13.5, with 76 per cent of business owners citing increased costs compared to the same period in 2018.
Despite these figures, there has been no let-up from entrepreneurs, who are prepared to turn their creative ideas and passions into innovative ventures. Scotland has seen a net increase of almost 10,000 businesses since last year, and the nation now has a record number of businesses; 99 per cent of them small.
A lack of confidence should not be confused with a lack of resilience. I hope I speak for all Scottish small business owners when I say we are a nation of grit, and no matter what we try to make the best of any situation – not only for ourselves, but our communities.
According to Peak B’s Small Business Community Impact report, almost three-quarters of small businesses have kept on – or would keep on staff – beyond the economic needs of the firm. Its latest Community Value report showed that the average small business offers ten hours per month of its time volunteering with local organisations.
Four out of five also offer flexible working; to allow single parents, carers, those suffering with illness, and those returning from long-term unemployment to work hours that suit them. In some cases, flexibility has enabled staff to begin developing their own small business.
Desire to help others
Connections are the heart of my business. Customers often come along to my candle-making workshops just to feel good about themselves, and on more than one occasion, this opportunity to be creative in a supportive environment has led both clients and staff to start their own business.
The power of, and desire for, people to do good should not be underestimated. That innate human desire to help others is what drives small businesses and, in turn, is what drives good people to set up their own.
Customers can repay the faith shown in them by their local independent by ensuring they shop small, eat small, trade small, particularly during the busy festive period.
READ MORE: Scots business confidence falls to lowest in UK
Small Business Saturday, taking place on 7 December, provides that opportunity for consumers to give back. Last year the UK spent £812 million on the day in small businesses – a much-needed vote of confidence, but one that needs to last all year-round.
Small businesses give Scotland 350,000 reasons to be cheerful, now let’s repay the favour and ensure they continue to thrive with renewed conviction.
- Candle maker Jo Macfarlane, a Small Business Saturday Hero.