I have friend who can recall nearly every business in the main street where we grew up and most were locally owned and run. Unfortunately the majority are now gone, or going, having been out-competed by the multi-nationals, nationals and on-line providers.
Buying groups have helped some with pricing and margins however product differentiation is still a major issue.
However there are signs of a local resurgence which is being driven by social forces. Demand for local food products is one example and we typically see this at both retail and hospitality levels.
In addition to local produce we also have access to a huge and diverse global cottage marketplace in a way that is quick and affordable. In other words not all products and services need come through the traditional supply chain for a local business to have a clear value proposition in their immediate marketplace.
Local fashion designers can have their product made locally or overseas and ready for sale within very short times-frames. A great example, albeit at a global scale, of how this can work is the business model adopted by Amancio Ortega for the fashion retailer Zara which has been stunningly successful.
From a services sector perspective technical and advisory support services are also available and more easily accessible from a global marketplace. This provides local services providers with the ability to satisfy client needs beyond their immediate capacity and capability.
Peer to peer finance, micro finance and the emergence of local power suppliers will also be part of supporting the local alternative in the future. Opportunity for local business abounds, it requires different thinking, different business models, innovation and collaboration based on relationships founded on trust and mutual benefit are vital.
Big is not always better, small can be highly competitive – are you open to the potential?