The global marketplace and rapidly advancing technology mean business deals can be completed anywhere, anytime, including from the comfort of your office. However, that has not negated the need to consider the environment around your headquarters, or where your staff and customers live and work.
Businesses still need strong communities in which to operate. They need a ready supply of new staff, good transport links to take advantage of and a thriving network of suppliers. And of course, they need customers with jobs, and money to spend. It stands to reason then, that businesses should join in efforts to rectify some of the failings that undermine the local enterprise culture. The problems on your doorstep, should never be overlooked.
Business Improvement Districts
Transport, energy conservation, communication and access to better health and education are considered to be the prerequisites of a strong community. From this basis, businesses can grow and prosper. This has given rise to the origins of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) which have evolved across the UK to plug the gaps left by reducing local authority budgets. More than 300 now exist across the country, run by business, for business.
We’ve had the pleasure or working with the Manor Royal BID in West Sussex over the past five years and our experience has shown that buy-in from local employers is needed for them to be truly effective. But whether you have a BID project near you or not, you can still use your voice as an agent of change - perhaps by getting involved in your local economic development partnership or LEP.
But why should businesses get involved in disrupting and influencing public policy?
- Your voice is listened to
- Businesses with strong social reputations are listened to and carry with them an air of independence with no “hidden agenda”.
- Policymakers know how vital businesses are to their community. Which makes them more willing to listen to those who willingly sit on local boards and project committees.
- When you knock on doors at the entry points to policymaking systems, the chances are they will be opened more readily than for many other people.
- Attracting more influencers, involvement and kudos
- Businesses who represent themselves on local initiatives and who lobby for improvements can also attract more people with influence to the table.
- Your own suppliers and other partners may be willing to add their voice and resources, seeking to be associated with your causes and campaigns.
- Success breeds success. As you improve your social standing and public profile as a business, you're more likely to be treated with respect. Respect is one of the hardest won and most valuable commercial commodities. It means when you speak out of issues of direct commercial relevance, you will have a more receptive audience.
- Communications and community support
- You already have communication channels and skills that can be “lent out” to projects to achieve public policy discussion and achieve tangible improvements.
- If the project you are backing requires community buy in, your involvement and communications acuity could unlock much-improved engagement. Your voice could prove more influential due to your position of power and the perception of neutrality.
A resilient community is fertile ground for your business, which makes it your responsibility as a business to get involved – particularly in these days of limited public services.