Small businesses
Are there many small businesses in your area? Do you prefer shopping in big companies or small shops? Why do some people prefer to shop in small businesses? Would you ever like to run your own small business? When was the last time you bought something from a small business?
  • Co-op (noun) - an organization, business, shop, or farm that is owned and managed by a group of people who also work in it.
  • Distillery (noun) - a factory where strong alcoholic drinks are produced by the process of distilling.
  • To bulk-buy (verb) - to buy something in large amounts.
  • Predatory (adj.) - a predatory person or organization tries to get something that belongs to someone else.
  • Flexibility (noun) - the ability to change or be changed easily according to the situation.
  • Localism (noun) - the idea that people should have control over what happens in their local area, that local businesses should be supported, and that differences between places should be respected.
  • To fit in (phrasal verb) - if one thing fits in with another thing, they look pleasant together or are suitable for each other.
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Questions and answers
M: Are there many small businesses in your area?

R: Well, it's a village. So everything we have here is a small family-owned business. I think the only exceptions are the co-op, the distillery up the road and the factory down the road.

M: Do you prefer shopping in big companies or in small shops?

R: Honestly, I don't have a preference. I mean, whatever is readily available works for me. I mean, on the one hand, big companies tend to have more discounts. I mean you can bulk-buy there. But smaller companies are better for the local economy. So there's, there's positives and negatives to both.

M: Why do some people prefer to shop in small businesses?

R: Well, it's similar to what I said, I imagine perhaps they like supporting the local economy and large companies can be somewhat predatory in their business practices. It might also be the only choice they have. I mean, if you live in a small rural community, then all you might have is your local shop that's owned by one of the families there.

M: Would you ever like to run your own small business?

R: I already do. I run this podcast with three of my colleagues and I teach English privately online. And frankly, I'd rather do that than work for some large institution. It gives me greater flexibility and it fits in with my belief in localism and, well, like I said, being flexible.

M: When was the last time you bought something from a small business?

R: Oh, that's a good question, actually. I'd have to think about it for a bit. I think probably the other day, I actually picked up some food from the local butcher's here. They're actually pretty good. They've won lots of awards for their work. Even though it's a small company. I think it only has like three or four people working there.
M: You know, Rory, I keep trying to start my own hot air balloon business. But it just doesn't take off.

R: Take off is a phrasal verb. And if you're interested in finding out more about phrasal verbs, you should check out our Podcourse. courses. And it's a joke, dear listener.

R: The course is not a joke. But that was.

M: To start my own hot air balloon business. Hot air balloon is like this balloon, this big balloon that goes there. But it just doesn't take off. Take off like a plane.

R: And take off like to be successful.

M: Yeah, it doesn't take off. It's not successful. It's a joke. I know it's horrible, it's horrible. But actually, this is not that bad. Small businesses. So what is a small business? Can we have a definition? Like a small business, how many people and what is it?

R: Oh my God, now that you've asked me to define it, there are actually legal definitions of small businesses. Now, if memory serves, a small business is a company that's got zero to 50 people. Medium size is 50 to 100 and large is with 100 or more. Let me just double-check that to make sure. According to Wikipedia, small businesses are types of corporations, partnerships, which have fewer employees, and less annual revenue, like money every year than a regular-sized business or corporation. So kind of a small business is a business that earns not so much money as Google or Apple and has fewer employees.

R: And according to the government of the United Kingdom, a small business has an annual turnover of less than 50 million euros and employs fewer than 250 people. Did I say less than 50 people before? Oh... Oh, wow. I'm in trouble with the grammar police.

M: Rory, you're an educated native speaker. An educated.

R: I got carried away. I studied business management. And one of these things was like legally defining a small business. I'm pretty sure it's fewer than 50 people. I said less than, it should be fewer than. Sorry. And it's a typical slip. A slip is kind of like, not a mistake, but a slip of the tongue. And less people, normally people say less people, less students, but grammatically, it's not correct. And in IELTS, to be on the safe side, yeah, like fewer people, fewer books. But fewer is difficult to pronounce. So it's much easier to say less people. And people out there, just say less people, which is grammatically incorrect.

R: Is fewer difficult to pronounce?

M: Fewer. But what's easy to say less people, fewer people?

R: You're just making it difficult for yourself to make everyone say less rather than fewer.

M: No, no, no, but like look, look, look, but when you pronounce the sound, it's like few, few, few. You have to make this few, but less people, less people, less books.
R: I would argue that is because we are talking about individual people, and therefore we should be putting a lot of effort into our description of individual parts of things. Anyway, dear listener, when you talk about small businesses, you can talk about convenience stores. So some small shops. Also hairdressers, restaurants, photographers. I'm reading from Wikipedia, obviously. Web design, computer programming.

R: Are you cheating?

M: Lawyers, accounters, dentists, medical doctors. So yeah, so kind of this, you know, small businesses. And also you can talk about our podcast, hey! And Maria business. I'm a small business. You know, I have two people in my company. I'm like, entrepreneur. Right. So pretty much business people or people who run their own business or people who are in business are entrepreneurs or businessmen. Men, many men. Rory, you mentioned a distillery. A distillery? For... For, for water.

R: Distillery for distilling whiskey. Now, do I know the process for distilling whiskey?

M: Oh, no, no, no. It's not a writing episode. So we're not going to discuss a process of whiskey.

R: It's a very specific word, though, for a specific process because people might say factory, but it's not a factory. It's a distillery. You know, whiskey isn't made in a factory. It's made in a distillery. But how... It involves a very complicated process, which only Scottish people are allowed to know. State secrets. Sorry, can't tell you.

M: You can say I don't have a preference. So small businesses, big businesses, I don't have a preference, I can kind of choose either. Small shops work for me, or it works fine for me, like big companies work fine for me. And if the examiner asks you to choose big companies or small businesses, you go with the second conditional. If I had to make a choice, I'd go for small businesses. Or if I had to choose, I'd pick, I'd choose big companies. Rory, tell us about this bulk.

R: Well, bulk buying is when you buy lots of things in one go because it's cheaper than going and buying like individual things. So for example, canned food. It's cheaper to buy in bulk than it is to go to the store and just buy one can each time, because you have to pay for the transport costs. And it can stay in your house for a longer period of time. So it's cheaper for you to do this, rather than to go back and forth.

M: Small businesses help the local economy. That's why people choose them. Right? And also, you did say something about predatory business practices. Predatory like... Like tigers are predators.

R: Well, yes, predatory business practices are when... It's like when companies deliberately price their goods lower, so that more people will come to them and fewer people will go to other stores in the area, and eventually, they'll wipe out their competition. And they can do that because they have the resources to do that. They might also do things like undercuts supplier, so like they're, they're more willing to like pay suppliers, more money, and so the suppliers go to them, and they don't supply other businesses in the area. So those are all predatory practices. Also, lying to your customers is a predatory practice. Saying oh, if you show up here or if you buy our thing, then it'll be much better for you then these places. And of course, it's not true. So all of these things are predatory. I don't think they're illegal, but they're certainly not moral. What I mean to say is, it's not true until it comes to us, in which case all of our stuff is great. And you should definitely only purchase success with IELTS products, if you want to succeed. Definitely. No lying going on here. Not at all.
M: Success with IELTS. IELTS Speaking for Success. We say that I run my own business. So I set up my business. Set, set, set. So last year, I set up my own business, or I want to set up a small business. And now I run it, not just like I run it, I jog it, jog, jog it. I run my own business, I manage my own business, I'm the boss. And you can say that it gives me flexibility. And Rory told us that it fits in with his beliefs. So how does it fit in with your beliefs? Like fit in like matches Rory's beliefs?

R: Yeah. Well, you basically described it there, there's nothing more I can do. It does. If something fits in, then it's, it's a good match. It's something that's consistent. So for me, like if I believe in giving power to local people, and making sure that you can live flexibly, then you should work with small businesses, most of the time.

M: Dear listener, if a question is a bit bizarre, and you don't know how to answer it, or you don't have any ideas, you can react to the question. For example, that's a good question, or that's a tough one. That's a difficult question. Let me think. So just like react to the question. And Rory also used another strategy. Rory said, I'd have to think about it for a bit. So I'd, I would, I would have to, have to, have to think about it for a bit. For a bit. For a bit. For a bit just for a little bit. Why did you say I would have to think about it? I'd have to think about it for a bit.

R: I don't know why it's I'd. Like, because you're doing it now. So you would normally think because like, you would think that you'd have to say, I'm thinking about it. But... So why is it would? Why is it would, Maria? Help me out. I don't know. But there is a reason why.

M: I think it's just more natural. Like I'd like to, I'd have, I would have to. You can say like, I have to think about it now. But I'd have to think about it now, it just sounds more natural. It's just because, like, just do it.

R: There must be something. It's like a polite way of saying, like, I'm trying to distance myself from my behaviour. Because it's rude to just stop and think. You have to explain what you're doing and you're not being rude.

M: So you can kind of remember this phrase. That's a good question. I'd have to think about it for a bit. For a bit.

R: Only one time. Use it only one time.

M: Yeah, say it again, so just like we listen to your super British Rory Scottish pronunciation.

R: That's a good question. I'd have to think about it for a bit.
M: And Rory told us that he went to the butcher's. Butcher's is a shop, where you buy meat, sausage and different kinds of products. So butcher's. And a bucther is a person who cuts different types of meat. So Rory said that I picked up some food from the butcher's next door. So the butcher's, the actual shop. He picked up some food he bought some food and pick up is a phrasal verb. We do have a phrasal verb course.

R: Yes.

M: One more question to you. So if you were to set up your own business, so just like Rory, not us, just Rory. So which of the three options, I'm gonna give them now to you. Which one would you choose? You have to choose one. Okay? You just don't have a choice. You just choose one. Okay? So would you set up your own pet-sitting company? Pet sitting, like you sit with other people's pets. Like a babysitter for some pet. T-shirt printing. Okay? So a small business, where you would print t-shirts. Or would you have your food truck? Like a huge car with food and you would sell it to...

R: Well, my cousin already has a food truck. So that kind of is taken care of. And then my cooking is awful. So not the food truck. And I have designed T-shirts with people before and they were funny ones, so that would be a good fit. But I also quite liked the first option as well.

M: Yeah, so as a pet sitter, you'll watch over your clients' pets, like different cats, snakes, dragons, unicorns.

R: All of these totally real animals.

M: Insects. And you will kind of like care for them and feed them. And yeah...

R: It's a... Can I not do two? Can I do two?

M: No, you should choose one.

R: Okay, well, in that case, t-shirts because then you can like your slogans. Oh, no, no, wait, that's trashy. Nevermind, nevermind, nevermind. I'll do the pet-sitting. I would make a couple of t-shirts, but I'm not doing it for a job. Like I think making slogans on t-shirts is trashy, so no. Dear listener, could you write in the comments, what kind of small business would you like to have? Just like, let's like daydream, okay? Or if anything, what small business would you like to set up? Maybe like an ice cream maker or, I don't know, a head designer? Yeah. So anything. Let us know in the comments. And comment on my hat and a dress. It's Thailand-style. So obviously, I'm just from the beach. So I have, you know, like swimming. Yeah. And the next recording is going to be from Moscow. So enjoy it while you can.

R: God knows I will.

M: Thank you so much for listening. Thank you, Thailand, for this beautiful country, and food, and the sea, and everything. Love and joy! Bye!
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