Confluent Forms LLC, located in Easthampton MA, is a boutique branding, graphic design, web design, web development, Blogger development, and PHP/MySQL application development firm providing services to customers from the Fortune 100 to local non-profit organizations and academic institutions. Serving Western Massachusetts and beyond.

The World isn't flat; use location to your advantage

by on December 15, 2011
Last updated on
Local produce by Mountain View Farm CSA,
not imported from Mexico or California,
supported by shareholders of the farm.
Globalization isn't a force to be reckoned with. As the World has shrunk in size due to the lowered cost of shipping, the Internet, and formerly 3rd world countries investing in their infrastructure, suddenly companies no longer joust with just their local competition, but are pitted against firms in Argentina, Indian, Mexico, China, Lithuania, etc., where the labor is significantly cheaper for a variety of reasons. Outsourcing, whether it be manufacturing, software development, call centers or even tax form processing, has been the rage for the last decade. Writers such as Thomas Friedman have expounded on this phenomenon at length, and most authors on the subject have a philosophical/socio-political agenda such as the evolution of US labor laws, the enforcement of WTO labor laws in our trading partners, the idea that the US has to retain its status as the knowledge leader in emerging technologies, or other issues of the day.

If you tuned into this conversation you'd assume the future of being a business in the US, and especially in the manufacturing and technology sectors, was all doom and gloom. How can you compete against firms that will do the same work as you for a fraction of the cost? With localization technologies, suddenly that Indian firm that charges rates 1/2 of yours is too close for comfort. Do you cut rates? Do you yourself start outsourcing more of your work to those inexpensive labor markets? Do you pick up and move to India?

Start by being a Buy Local proponent

"Buy Local" is a big theme here in Western Massachusetts, and has become a rallying-cry that could be said to have advanced (or even saved) sustainable agriculture in the Pioneer Valley. Buying "Local First" also propagates the idea that the cost savings by going abroad for products or services are outweighed by the secondary benefits of buying local and supporting businesses in your community.

To paraphrase their great list:
  1. Significantly more money re-circulates in the community
  2. Non-profits and charities receive greater support
  3. Unique businesses contribute to the local character of the area
  4. Environmental impact, locally and beyond, is reduced
  5. Small businesses, and locally-owned businesses, contribute more jobs to the economy
  6. Customer service is often better
  7. Local business owners invest in the community that they are members of
  8. Create a greater tax base to support local services
  9. Added competition and diversity lead to more consumer choices
  10. Entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character
These same ideas apply equally whether you are a general consumer or in business procurement; spending money in your immediate area fosters a strong, vibrant, and local business community, one that you can turn to for procurement sources as well as customers.

The importance of communication, face time, and local connections

One of the biggest selling points for choosing a local vendor is the amount of face time you'll likely receive, face time that will keep the vendor honest, enable greater chances of success through increased communication (and not just via email or phone), and enable the project to more easily adjust if changes are needed. The majority of software development projects fail; the reason most often cited is poor communication. While face time isn't the cure-all for all technology projects, or projects in general, it can often be a salve, enabling you to quickly move past problems and on to solutions.

Creating lasting bonds with local vendors establishes more than just a buyer/seller relationship, but can develop a relationship where you are a trusted advisor and long-term partner. Think of this as less blind sales pitches and greater business development efforts.

More than anything else, creating a local partner can create a positive buzz for you within your area. Relationships matter and within a community referrals can be worth their weight in gold. So instead of being another nameless entity become a trusted face. Buy local and locals will buy from you.

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