Over a third of small businesses are not primarily driven by profit, over three-quarters of small businesses actively support their community and over a third stated that they have kept on a member of staff when they didn’t commercially need them anymore.

A new report by peak b, the campaigning organisation for small business, has found that over a third of small businesses (38.4 per cent) are not driven by profit, and an overwhelming number are playing a hugely active role in local communities. In a survey of over a thousand small businesses, the majority (90 per cent) felt they have a role to play in supporting community organisations. Over three-quarters (77 per cent) of small businesses actively support local organisations – including charities, schools and foodbanks – despite the everyday challenges that founders face running their own businesses. Underpinned by a desire to measure the intangible contribution of SMEs, peak b’s Small Business Community Impact Report reveals the holistic value and purpose-driven nature of small businesses; not only in creating local jobs but acting as agents of social change and regeneration. Sponsored by Indeed and TSB, the report highlights that many small businesses are about far more than profit. Across the UK, small businesses play a pivotal role as employers and change-makers in the local communities, with many providing opportunities for disadvantaged groups. Over a third (36.6 per cent) stated that they have kept on a member of staff when they didn’t commercially need them anymore, and almost half (48.5 per cent) have created employment for an individual in order to give them an opportunity, above and beyond the business’s needs. In a trend that shows the people-first approach of the sector, 78 per cent of small businesses create training opportunities for their staff, with 28 per cent offering this for the wider community as well. Furthermore, 70 per cent of small businesses offer flexible working opportunities. The report also found that it just takes one or two influential individuals in a community to spark strong small business connections. Empowering these influencers – or ‘Sparks’ – and leveraging the collective influence of small businesses, could deliver beneficial social change at a low cost. Michelle Ovens MBE, founder of peak b, issued a call for greater reward and recognition of the impact of small businesses on the community: She said: The value of small businesses, both to local communities and nationally, is phenomenal. We need to recognise the value of small businesses, beyond pure economic and productivity factors. Small businesses create ideas, jobs, training, new products, new ways of working and much more. The same small business owners – faced with challenges from managing cash flow to staffing – are also the ones stepping forward to give young people a break, turning up to volunteer at the local hospital or school and mentoring other businesses. We need to start celebrating and rewarding this contribution more. The government and big businesses should be giving targeted support to galvanise these local heroes. They can play an even greater role in addressing and solving issues at the heart of their communities.” Bill Richards, UK managing director, Indeed, said: “Small businesses are both agents for social change
and opportunity creators. The significant role this large community plays in the UK in terms of hiring diverse talent within communities and fostering inclusive working environments should not be underestimated. When creating job opportunities, thousands of small businesses are embedding creative and flexible working options into their roles, in many cases delivering the opportunity for employees to carry out meaningful, purpose-driven work. We hope this is just the start of continued recognition for small businesses across the country.”

Richard Davies, commercial banking director, SME Banking TSB, said: “Small businesses are the driving force of the UK economy, employing millions of people and generating billions of pounds in turnover. It’s really encouraging therefore to see that despite the challenges facing small business owners, these entrepreneurs continue to engage and invest heavily not only in their communities, but also in the people who make up these local communities.”