Since it’s Labor Day, we’re going to talk about how the shop local movement is not just about shopping; it’s about people doing jobs that are rewarding, useful, entrepreneurial, and less impactful on the environment, while contributing to community growth and coherence. For most of us, the first priority is to make a living so that we can pay the bills, put food on the table, and take care of the basic needs of ourselves and our families. Sometimes our jobs may just be something to take care of all that, and that’s important. If we feel like it, we can do more. We might have a passion or a skill that we want to put to use, in order to make extra money, invest in a new house, put money aside for our kids’ college, or take that dream vacation. We might just do some business on the side of our “real” job. Sometimes our side gig ramps up and makes us enough to concentrate on it full time. There are all kinds of possibilities and combinations.
There are great resources out there to help people get their ideas or businesses off the ground. Entrepreneurship or business classes at local chambers or community colleges, or online courses, local small business incubators and small business development centers, and business consultants of all kinds are around if you just take a look around. Farmers’ markets, art and craft fairs, and “made in our community” business bazaars can give your products and services exposure and sales. While it can be hard or time-consuming to complete the “business side” of your gig for some people, like accounting and marketing, by integrating into the local community and learning who is out there looking to provide services for people just like you, it’s possible to find solutions. What comes around, goes around. That’s the great thing about the shop local thing.
Check out this infographic by the Institute for Local Self Reliance, “The Ripple Effect When You Shop Local.”
It’s from the point of view from the shopper, but flip it to be about the seller:
- You can share your expertise or passion and make a living out of it by providing people with something they value.
- You can develop new relationships with people in your community.
- You’re creating increasing community equity and jobs through your efforts by keeping money in the community.
- By building your boat and working to raise it, you’re helping to lift all boats, as the saying goes. Entrepreneurship helps reduce inequality, as the graphic above says.
Are you looking for ideas about businesses to start or how how to get started, or what is involved? There are literally endless resources out there, but you can start here on Entrepreneur, with a list of 55 ideas for you. They have ideas (which, you may already have your own and that’s great) but also provide an idea of what’s involved to start with, and point you to resources. Of course here on the Climate Economy, we would say also that you should look at these business ideas through the lens of the Climate Economy, where you set them up to be win-win-win for climate-economy-humanity. Find something that’s close to your idea and go from there. You always want to make sure that you’re on a trusted source. You don’t want to pay too much for something when you might be able to get it for less or do it yourself.
If you’re looking not only for small business ideas, but how to get more involved in growing shop local in your own community, this books is a great resource: Shuman, Michael. The Local Economy Solution: How Innovative, Self-Financing “Pollinator” Enterprises Can Grow Jobs and Prosperity.
One of the fastest growing segments of the labor market is Americans choosing self-employment.19 Those twenty-six million Americans run 88 percent of the nation’s businesses. Moreover, start-up firms are getting smaller—from 7.6 employees in the 1990s to 4.7 employees in 2011.
This is a fabulously wide open and growing area. It’s a win-win-win for climate-economy-humanity: You can read about some benefits here. And finally, one of the best things about shop local is building community resilience in the face of climate change. Let’s get busy.