When people talk about supporting local startups they are generally talking about investment, education and community, but what about as a customer or user?
In South Africa we have a large number of startups that provide products and services to meet a host of needs. Need a payment platform for your ecommerce store? Want to make doing your taxes easier? Want to find a tradesman? There’s a local startup that can help for all of these.
Often large companies miss the boat by avoiding startups. Procurement departments have vendor requirements that make selling to large companies a really difficult task for a small business or startup. Of course not all large companies fall into this category and we have seen some amazing corporates supporting local startups.
“I thought it was important to point out that for every local startup that is successful, there are local customers that were crucial to success. Every successful business has a first customer that took a gamble on them, and then others that followed. These early customers are the real heroes of our story.”
“Without some brave people at local South African businesses that trusted us, our product would never have been able to launch — irrespective of the quality of the product itself.”
At Quicklysign we have our own local customers who took a chance with us when we first started and we are eternally grateful to them. We think all size companies should actively seek out startups and small businesses. When entrepreneurs and independent businesses are supported, they contribute to the supply chain, create more employment opportunities and help stimulate the South African economy in general. It’s a win - win.
Here's why we think you should actively seek out startups and local businesses to support.
1. Personal Touch
Small businesses and startups really appreciate your business. When you support a small business frequently you build a relationship with the employees and owners. Often the founders are heavily involved in all aspects of the business, and as a client more often than not you get to interact with them directly. They can offer special advice for your problem, and connect you to other local startups you may otherwise never have known about. In general startups are more hands on with you as a client.
2. Care More
We understand that "caring more" by itself is not enough. But look at what this can do for you. Your problems, issues, and concerns become their mission. Trust me on this. Startups often have limited resources and the one way in which they can compete with large corporates is to care more. Customer service becomes a differentiator and a passion of most startups. As I mentioned above, it’s often the founders who are doing customer service in the first place. They care about you and making you happy and solving your problems more than anything else.
3. Creating Value is their mission
A startup's primary goal is to figure out how to deliver maximum value to you by solving your problems. Their success is linked to your success. If you win they win and that’s all they think about.
The size and momentum of a large corporate is often their biggest strength but also a hurdle to innovation. Large vendors can't follow an idea just to see where it leads. Startups can bring this innovation to a corporate. They have no bureaucracy or red tape between their people and their customers. They can very often provide better value to you because they don't surrender to the idea of, "that's just the way it is."
Bonus - Positive Impact
When you support a small business you are not helping a CEO buy a third holiday home. You are helping a little girl get dance lessons, a little boy get his team jersey, a mom or dad put food on the table, a family pay a bond, or a student pay for university fees.
South Africa’s unemployment rate is sky high. When we all increase our support and shop at our local small businesses and support our local startups a higher percentage will survive and grow. They can then expand, employ more local people which drives job creation and makes a real contribution to the economy. This is reason alone to try do your best to support as many startups and small businesses as you can.
Now yes, Quicklysign is a startup and yes, we're a small business and of course we do need your support, but so do so many other small businesses and startups. Remember that support doesn’t always have to be monetary. There are so many other ways you and your business can help. Sharing this article on social media for instance, telling your friends about us. No matter how small, it all helps!
How you choose to support local startups doesn’t really matter, just as long as you do.