Micro business owners can often feel unimportant or even invisible compared to growing businesses. But not all of us want to pursue growth. So how can we step out from the shadows and establish success on our own terms?
When you run a micro business – or are a micro business (hello freelancers and sole traders) – it can sometimes feel like you’re considered to be expendable, or not even considered at all.
I want to remind you how important – how vital – you are. Not just as a person but as an integral part of your local community, the national economy and beyond.
Micro businesses are not only legitimate, they are crucial. They matter.
We have a tendency to champion businesses that achieve growth but not all businesses achieve that. Not all businesses aim for that.
It’s time we recognise and celebrate the businesses that are successful under their own terms. Success can look very different to different people.
Perhaps you’re one of the thousands of micro business owners who started their business not to make millions but to live out a lifelong dream, do good for people and planet, or just to be able to have a modestly comfortable life.
This does not make you any less important to our economy and our lives than those which scale up.
Prosperity without growth
There is an argument that growth can no longer be revered as the holy grail it’s currently considered to be by business and government.
We know we must keep global warming to 1.5oC, as per the Paris agreement. With this knowledge, the current economic model based on infinite growth is surely unsustainable.
It’s time to redefine prosperity.
“Prosperity consists in our ability to flourish as human beings – within the ecological limits of a finite planet.” – Tim Jackson, TEDGlobal 2010
British ecological economist, Tim Jackson, explores the possibilities for a more sustainable economy, where people and planet are put before profit and growth in his book Prosperity without Growth.
Tim believes that we need a shift in the economic system to break the loop of continuous destruction and status competition – chasing novelty at the expense of the health of the planet we rely on for our very survival.
“this is not about standing in the way of development. It’s not about overthrowing capitalism. It’s not about trying to change human nature. What we’re doing here is we’re taking a few simple steps towards an economics fit for purpose. And at the heart of that economics, we’re placing a more credible, more robust, and more realistic vision of what it means to be human.”
Why micros need to be championed
Most micro business owners I know are not looking to grow their business beyond a modest goal – one that will allow them to pay themselves and any employees a living wage and perhaps do some good in the world.
Many are trying to improve people’s lives and some are working to create social change.
Micros by their very nature are more efficient. They have to be to survive! More efficient means using fewer of the earth’s resources, creating fewer emissions and producing less waste.
Let’s not forget that micros make up 96% of all private business in the UK. They employ millions of people, go the extra mile for their customers, give back to their communities and they enrich our lives with unique, personalised service and wonderful products.
I want to say to all micro business owners reading this: I hope you feel proud of everything you have and continue to achieve, and know how important you are.
How to champion your own business
As a micro business owner myself, I know how hard it can be to put yourself out there on social media (and elsewhere), feeling like you’re blowing your own trumpet, again and again.
But doing so is essential to creating sustainable success. You can’t rely on others doing it for you.
Here are my top tips for showing the world how amazing your business is, without it feeling uncomfortable or impossible to sustain.
Wear your heart on your sleeve. People by people, so let them have a glimpse into your life. Don’t be afraid to bring your personality into your business.
Strive for authenticity over perfection. People can smell fakeness a mile off, so don’t try to be something you’re not. If you feel awkward dancing to music for an Instagram reel, it will show – focus your efforts on other types of content.
Screw the algorithm. You may have been told that you need to post daily – or multiple times a day – to build a decent reach on your preferred social media platform. It’s true that Facebook, Instagram and the like have algorithms that love new content (especially videos) but if trying to post new content every day has you feeling exhausted, don’t. Decide what frequency works for you and stick to that. I also recommend batch creating content in advance.
Encourage customers to sing your praises. There’s no shame in asking your customers to post about your product/service on social media and tag you in. Large companies do it all the time. Most customers are more than happy to tell others about a good thing they’ve found but they may not think of doing so unless asked. So ask!
I believe we need to champion micros for what they are – not for what they could grow to be.
What about you? Are you a micro business owner? What does success look like to you?