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 reassuring about carefully arranged shelves, lovingly-chosen products and decent service.

Small is beautiful

Not only do we love the idea of shop-ownership, the UK government has now put shopkeeping firmly at the centre of its economic strategy.

Of course, it’s not just “shops” – the future is about sole traders and micro businesses. The type of small businesses that were dismissed as “lifestyle” or “cottage industry” in the past. Now, they’re 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.

Social media for small business

I set up the Social Media Launch Pack with small and micro businesses in mind. Digital technology has levelled out the playing field and made it possible for smaller businesses 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 social in your marketing mix. That may be obvious – but it’s not always easy.

Perfectly formed

That’s why I’ve been working with Brandwatch to analyse social media for small business – using social listening to see how niche brands in different sectors are driving brand awareness and reaching new customers.

The result is a blog series called State of Independents – because I’m only looking at independently-owned companies. The series covers beauty salons, coffee shops, fashion designers, music festivals, hairdressers and chocolatiers.

If your business is in a sector I haven’t looked at, and you’d like it covered, let me know and I’ll see what I can do!

Thank you 🙂

See the full blog series – State of Independents.

Photo: Shop fronts of London (Instagram)

Jemima Gibbons

Social media consultant and author of Monkeys with Typewriters (featured by BBC Radio 5 and the London Evening Standard). Get your social marketing up and running with my Social Media Launch Pack!

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