4Hub’s Naomi Timperley discusses the role small businesses play within local communities

POSTED: 2nd June 2014
IN: Business news

Small businesses play a vital role in the UK economy, creating 59.3 per cent of private sector jobs, but they also have a strong part in shaping the societies around them.

Serial entrepreneur Naomi Timperley spoke to Aldermore recently to discuss the business benefits of getting involved in local social projects, and the support available to help SMEs establish relationships within the community.

“Small businesses are a key part of any community’s regeneration, growth or sustainability,” emphasises Timperley, suggesting, “Business leaders could be more involved by using their influence, connections and leadership skills to aid better decision making on community matters.”

“That’s one thing I’ve done with my business, I’ve always been part of any community that I’ve been in,” Timperley admits. Through her own experience as an entrepreneur, the ex-Enterprise Lab co-founder has found that while many small businesses have strong business acumen, they can struggle to motivate employees and ensure they share the business’ goals. By contrast, social sector organisations attract passionate recruits, but lack a solid understanding of business principals. This creates a situation where both can stand to benefit from collaboration, lending employees a strong sense of pride and purpose in their work through supporting local causes.

In order to help small businesses create such partnerships and boost employee engagement, Timperley has launched consultancy 4Hub with co-founder Andy Jackson, which assists SMEs in designing localised CSR projects.

“We believe businesses exist to make a profit and we are not trying to change that,” asserts Timperley, continuing, “I think a lot of the time people are so involved with the business that they don’t think beyond that and they don’t think that if they did support the local community that they would reap the benefits of that.”

“We need more SMEs to understand that by having a purpose beyond profit they will attract the emerging talent from school or education leavers and the next generation of business leaders.”

Timperley shares the example of Resonate Recruitment as a company which has realised the value of incorporating community support into its business model, stating:

“Whilst they are at first glance a standard recruitment company if you dig a little deeper you will discover they are actually a social enterprise and they commit 10 per cent of every contract value to supporting not for profits alongside giving 20 per cent of their teams time in a pro bono support capacity.”

<p">In order to encourage more SMEs to follow in this example though, Timperley feels companies need greater support in discovering how they can build bridges within their community, including through government input.

“The government could offer a scheme where if an SME invests in local successful community initiatives, thus helping them become sustainable, they can deduct that amount from their tax bill, perhaps capped at 5 per cent,” suggests Timperley, reasoning, “Doing this would be a more effective use of money as there are no governmental layers of administration diluting the amount of money hitting the community in need.”

Aldermore recognises the significant steps many SMEs already take to build a stronger community around them, and hopes to continue to see British small businesses capitalise on the business benefits of social sector involvement in the future.

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