Build Strength in Numbers to Help Your Business Thrive: How Your Business and Community Can Benefit From Organizing an Independent Business Alliance
Bookstores survive today because only if they are well-run businesses, but the most successful stores often do more than just run a great business -- they participate in or instigate alliances that unite local businesses and concerned citizens to help all independent businesses thrive.
In fact, since the first Independent Business Alliance (IBA) was co-founded by the owner of the Boulder Bookstore, more IBAs and related efforts have been initiated and championed by booksellers than any other business type. Three booksellers serve on the board of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA), the national support network for both established and prospective new IBAs.
A single merchant has limited ability to shift community consciousness or implement pro-local policies, but by building strength in numbers, you can become a force for change and create a culture of support for independent business locally.
While many local groups start with buy independent / buy local campaigns, AMIBA notes the most effective groups engage in three major realms of activity:
- Public education about the greater overall value local businesses often can provide as well as the vital economic, social and cultural role they play in the community.
- Cooperative promotion, advertising, purchasing, sharing of skills and resources and other activities to help local businesses gain economies of scale and compete more effectively.
- Creating a strong, uncompromised voice for local independent business and sustainable economic development in local government and media while engaging citizens in guiding the future of their community.
For years, the New Atlantic Booksellers Association has partnered with the AMIBA to introduce NAIBA members to the benefits booksellers have enjoyed through these alliances (see links to local alliances here).
AMIBA provides comprehensive assistance for businesses and organizations seeking to launch effective buy local campaigns or broader alliances, and while paid affiliation is required to receive their full support, they are available to offer you free guidance in your early organizing steps. AMIBA also will send you a free primer on effective buy indie/buy local campaigns upon request.
Check with NAIBA or AMIBA about a pending partnership that may offer NAIBA members discounted rates on both AMIBA affiliation and community trainings to help new alliances.
The American Independent Business Alliance website and free monthly newsletter provide a wealth of information and tools for business owners.
The New Rules Project is the go-to source for economic impact studies and model pro-local policies to promote in your area.
Business Alliance for Local Living Economies promotes local business ownership as one of several program areas.
Indie Bound is the marketing campaign of the American Booksellers Association.
The National Main Street Center offers information, technical assistance, and advocacy tools on preservation-based commercial district revitalization.
LinkedIn discussion group for indie business owners and advocates (facilitated by AMIBA).
Also, see AMIBA's recommended resources page for useful articles, books, films and templates. Explaining the Multiplier Effect and The Benefits of Doing Business Locally are two articles providing a good start.
Remember, you don't need to take on leading a local alliance, you just need to instigate!