Instagram #shopfrontsofLondon June 2016

Setting up shop as a small business? That’s great. How’s your social media looking?

Like every good meme, the one about the English being shopkeepers lives on because there’s truth in it. Napoleon (or Barère) may have meant it as an insult. But that’s ok, the modern day English/ Brits (in all our diversity) have embraced shopkeeping with open arms. We now own the s-word.

From pubs to tea shops to books, it turns out that running a shop is the number one dream career for UK citizens. Because, let’s face it, who can resist a nice-looking shop? There’s something reassuringly familiar about the carefully arranged shelves, well-chosen products and politely disinterested service.

But what we really want is those elusive freedoms (that have been at the heart of the current heated Brexit debate): independence and autonomy.

Not only do we love the idea of shop-ownership, the UK Government is happy to put shopkeeping firmly at the centre of its economic strategy.

Of course, it’s not just “shops” – the future is about micropreneurs and microbusinesses. This type of small business was dismissed as “lifestyle” or “cottage industry” in the past. Now it’s a force to be reckoned with.

The vast majority of new companies registered in the UK since 2000 have been non-employing businesses. And sole traders are driving UK economic growth, with 50,000 starting up last year alone.

I set up Social Media Launch Pack with these small and micro-businesses in mind. Digital technology has levelled out the playing field and made it possible for small business to compete on a global level formerly only accessible to large corporates. Economies of scale aren’t what they used to be. The term billion dollar startup didn’t even exist five years ago.

So if you’re setting up shop in the UK, whether in the traditional sense or as any other type of service provider, you’ll need digital in your marketing mix. That may be obvious – but it’s not always easy. That’s why I’ve been working with Brandwatch to analyse how small businesses in different sectors are using social media marketing.

The series so far has covered beauty salons, coffee shops, fashion designers, music festivals, hairdressers and chocolatiers. All under the hashtag #stateofindependents – because I’m only comparing independently-owned companies.

I’d like to cover restaurants next – if you have a local favourite and they’re brilliant at social media please let me know. Likewise, if your business is in a sector I haven’t looked at, and you’d like it covered, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do.

Thank you!

Photo: #shopfrontsoflondon search results (Instagram)

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