It is kind of hard to believe but here we are at the end of another business calendar year.
Already commentators and publications are waxing lyrical about one thing – a certain virus which a year ago was beginning its "world tour". Because of the saturation it has received (and will continue to) in the media I am not going to talk about it much in my recap of 2020.
The reason for this is that what is front of mind for me when I think of 2020 is the numerous examples I have seen around town which show the resilience of the local (and national) small business sector. And resilience is only part of what was required during weeks of enforced non activity for many and operating in an environment where further shutdowns would come when "immaculate" infections occurred (thankfully there was only one, but it was very hard work for some of our friends in Auckland).
I cringe every time I hear people using the word "pivot" (where "adapt" is the better, less buzzy, word) but in many cases around town you will see businesses have changed how they operate and actually reaped successes in effectiveness and efficiency. We have also seen people brave enough to start new businesses or find new and innovative uses for their assets.
But make no mistake, these changes have been challenging and, in some cases, downright hard. Much of the blood, sweat and tears (and sleepless nights) from our SME sector will have gone unnoticed by the masses – particularly those whose security, jobs or businesses were "business as usual" from March. And the threat of further shutdowns remains, so this risk will continue to be a feature for the business community and should remain part of everyone's planning going forward.
And it is here that my new year resolution and my mindset for 2021 is firmly placed. That is to appreciate and support even more of our local businesses, producers, and service providers. I am also trying at this time to figure out how I can do this more effectively – from revamping the focus of this column to be even more supportive of locals through to changing my shopping habits. Deleting the Amazon app from my devices felt interestingly cleansing.
I see that international brands and online retailers are increasing their presence. Why, for the sake of a few bucks, would you shop at an Australian mega-chemist when you can support a local? Why would you go online to buy something (and wait days for delivery) when a local can do all that for you? Stay local and put money in the pockets of people who can spend the money again here.
I may be King Canute telling the tide not to come in on both of those matters, but the focus should always be to put locals first, because our local SME sector is where a major link in our community fabric exists – and it does not get enough credit. But there are special people out there doing some amazing things and they need to be celebrated through ongoing recognition and support.
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So, it is on that note that I will wish all my readers a merry Christmas and a particularly safe and happy New Year. I will be back in January featuring the local businesses who make our community special.
• Zenith Solutions is a local business consultancy practice. If you want to plan for your business in 2021 give Russell a call on 021 244 2421.