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Local is the new global: Kiwis encouraged to support their local businesses

During the lockdown, Jacinda has told New Zealanders to “keep it local”. While this is undoubtedly great advice as we work to curb the spread of the dreaded lurgy, we are starting to see the green shoots of a far broader, long-term and epoch-defining shift to valuing what we have in our own back yard. 

There are two drivers behind this: commercial and philosophical. 

It makes commercial sense 

By impacting everyone, everywhere, the Coronavirus pandemic has wrought havoc on the supply chains of pretty much any business that previously relied on overseas providers. While supply chain disruptions have always been a risk, the globalised nature of business has always been seen as a mitigant; if something goes wrong in one part of the world, we can source the parts/labour/materials from elsewhere. Coronavirus has thrown into sharp relief the flaws in this logic. 

Businesses and their shareholders value certainty and reliability of outcome. What they don’t like is risk so expect to see much changing in terms of how Kiwi businesses are run. From a purely pragmatic point of view, New Zealand businesses are today reviewing how much of their services will be outsourced, how much of their supply chain will sit overseas, and how much they can bring back to Aotearoa. 

Financially there are pros and cons to this (it will create job and supplier opportunities but consumer pricing may increase). Ultimately, however, it may be the only way for business to proceed. 

But this isn’t just about mitigating risk. It’s also about us being transformed for the better as a society. 

Philosophically speaking 

Walk down your street right now (keeping a 2m distance from those outside your bubble, of course!) and you will see that a change has occurred. Neighbours put teddybears in windows to cheer up the neighbourhood kids. Neighbours stop to talk to one another over the fence who have never done anything other than nod in the past. Neighbourhood Whatsapp, Facebook and Neighbourly groups set up to look out for elderly neighbours, deliver food and generally come together. Online communities of experts set up to give free advice to struggling entrepreneurs. 

This is all new to today’s New Zealand, and is reminiscent of the way we came together after other big disasters we’ve endured as a nation. 

We all know as Kiwis that small businesses are the backbone of our country and most of us see friends and family struggling right now. Following the direction of the government to be kind and do what they can to support struggling businesses, many are using their time on lockdown to create digital platforms to support local businesses and local businesspeople. Many are donating their services and products free of charge to help one another. 

We are coming together and looking after one another. 

So what does this mean? 

Business is changing, New Zealand is changing, New Zealanders are changing. Local will be the new global, so embrace the opportunities this creates for your business. It’s an exciting future. 

– Ben Rose is CEO/Founder of revenue growth consultancy The Growery (www.thegrowery.co.nz) and has been a Marketing, Sales and Operations executive in several large New Zealand organisations

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