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What does it mean to 'Grow Small'


It is increasingly easy to start a business these days and the UK has become a one of the leading destinations for aspiring entrepreneurs. What is the incentive for many people creating a living from their learnt skills, expanding hobby, a passion into an actual business with the risks and investment that this often entails? Most entrepreneurs in this category would say 'to earn a living' expand their idea and turn it into something that will earn them a comfortable living, turning something they do well and enjoy into a business. Of course there are a proportion of people who are purely motivated by money, and creating and expanding on a business opportunity to make as much money as possible. These are not the people I'm interested in, as all their decisions and motivations are expansion and profit driven.

There is of course nothing wrong with being ambitious or making money, but what I'm interested in is the people who simply want to do what they have set out to do to the best of their ability, expand without cost to their personal/family life and health and simply aspire to live well from whatever it is they have turned into a business. The question is, does every independent bakery want to become Greggs, does the local coffee shop down the road aspire to be the next Starbucks? The answer is usually no. Something business advisers and bank managers rarely understand. The idea is to explore the notion of ‘Growing Small’, how these small independent businesses grow in an authentic, humane way rather than expand beyond control. The idea of the small independent ‘farm’ cultivating a manageable amount of produce, plenty enough to generate a comfortable decent living, becoming something to aspire to over the mass production factory ‘farm’.

There is widespread evidence for a move towards a more localised and tangible way of doing business, and an increasing suspicion of large-multinational enterprises (so much so that many of these are hiding behind what appears to be something local and low-key). I am perhaps more aware of this, living in an area of London that is dominated by independent shops, cafes and restaurants rather than somewhere where franchise after franchise is the only available option, but this does appear to be a nationwide shift. I would like to understand how such independent localised business are able to not only survive in but also contribute to a local landscape and what they can do to expand and grow within these confines. What does it actually mean to ‘grow small’ for the businesses themselves, for the local economy and community and for the economy at large?

Some interesting links:

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