Locally owned and operated small businesses are an essential part of many communities. Healthy local businesses boost community connections and economies.
But despite their substantial benefits, many small businesses constantly fight to stay afloat. It’s harder now than ever for small businesses to survive with growing competition, economic hardship, and the struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most straightforward way to support a small business is to just go to the place and buy some stuff, but we don’t always have the money or time. Fortunately, there are ways to help small business owners without even leaving your couch. Here are 15 fast and easy ways to support small businesses in your community today.
The easiest way to support small businesses is to decide to shop small. While big-box retailers, fast fashion, and the internet have made it easy to order and receive products within days or even minutes, small businesses still need your support. By choosing to purchase products from your favorite local businesses, you can help them stay open for years to come.
To help keep your dollars local, consider small retailers in your community for your next purchase. Giant e-commerce companies like Amazon will always be available, but a local retailer might offer the same item for a comparable price. Take a moment to research small businesses in your area and their products. Many small businesses even have an online shop, allowing you to take advantage of online shopping while contributing to their sales right from your home.
If you don’t have any purchases in mind, you can always buy gift cards for yourself or someone else to use in the future. These cards are a huge help to small businesses because they provide an immediate cash flow. When it’s a slow season or supply is on backorder, gift cards quickly boost revenue to help business owners through these tough times.
Many local businesses offer e-gift cards online, allowing you to quickly and easily shop from home and saving you a trip to the store. Gift cards also work as the perfect present for those impossible-to-shop-for family members and friends. When you purchase a gift card for someone else, you further your impact by introducing a new customer to your favorite small business.
Whenever you’re considering a new restaurant or boutique, there’s a strong chance you’ll read a few reviews before making a decision. According to Brightlocal, 82% of consumers say they read reviews to find out about local stores. Reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, or Facebook are a driving force for a business’s success, and a 5-star versus 1-star review can make a big difference for their online image.
If you’re looking for a simple way to share your love for a small business, leaving a review only takes a few minutes and is completely free. Search for your favorite local business online and write a few sentences about them. You can bring up their amazing customer service, the products you use every day, or how you love their location. Whatever you choose, a positive review is an easy way to help them attract new customers and gain a 5-star average.
Social media is an excellent avenue for businesses to attract new customers. However, with constantly changing algorithms and tricky settings, it’s hard for new small businesses to grow their accounts from the ground up.
By following small businesses on social networks, you can help increase their exposure and appear more relevant. This is also an easy way to stay up-to-date on their growth and get early access to any sales or events.
After you follow local small businesses on social media, the next step is to interact with their posts. The social media algorithms are tricky because they rely on engagement, meaning it’s out of the hands of the business. Instead, increasing reach and exposure only happens if people interact with their account.
This is where you come in. When the business posts on their social media, all you have to do is like, comment, or share the post with a friend. By taking a few seconds to interact with the post, you can help them increase their engagement and reach potential new customers.
If you want to take your social media support a step further, post a shoutout for your favorite small business on your own account. Small business owners are constantly thinking of new and creative ways to share updates on social media, and a post from a customer can help them along the way.
Start by posting a picture of the food at a local restaurant or a new bag from your favorite boutique and tag the business so they’ll see it. They can share your post with their audience as a testimonial for their product or service. Alternatively, if the business posts an update that you want to share, repost it on your account to show your support.
Newsletters are an excellent way to show your support and stay in touch with your favorite businesses. Plus, by joining an email list, you’ll be the first to know when there are any promotional events, upcoming announcements, or new products and services.
Visit your favorite business’ website to check if they offer an email newsletter. You’ll likely find a link to join in a pop-up or near the bottom of the home page. Many businesses will even offer an exclusive coupon code for new email subscribers when you sign-up.
COVID-19 hit restaurants hard, with roughly 80,000 temporarily or permanently closing in the United States. Supply chain shortages, inflation, and labor crises have forced restaurant owners to adapt to more and more challenges. If you’re looking to support a small business, it’s more critical than ever to support the locally-owned restaurants in your community.
The simplest way to support a restaurant is to be a customer and order food. Many restaurants have increased their takeout and delivery options to cater to customers staying at home. Rather than use a delivery app that charges restaurants extra fees, take advantage of these services when ordering. If you’d rather go in person to have a meal, try and make an effort to thank the employees and show your support.
Restaurant owners aren’t the only ones feeling the pandemic’s impact. Covid has also wrecked bottom lines in the service industry. Services like gyms, hair salons, and hotels have experienced a slower cash flow because of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and labor shortages.
If you’re in a position to do so, consider tipping a little more than you typically would for these types of services. The extra few dollars will go a long way for the service workers who have lost revenue in the past few years. Plus, by offering a generous tip, you’re doing your part to help your favorite businesses stay open.
If you are a frequent customer of a few local businesses in your area, consider buying some branded merchandise. Many small businesses offer t-shirts, hats, and other branded items for sale in-store or online. By purchasing one of these items, you show that you’re a fan of the business and will continue to support them as a customer.
Don’t forget to wear your new threads around town! This is a simple way to increase their exposure and reach potential new customers. As a bonus, you get to look like that cool person who knows all the best local, indie shops and eateries. If you want to take it a step further, tag the business if you ever post a picture while wearing the merch.
To be clear, we’re not saying you should appoint yourself internet grammar cop, obnoxiously pointing out every missing comma or misspelled word on a company’s social media. Busy business owners don’t need to be bothered about an incorrect form of “you’re” on a Facebook post from last January.
But crucial information, like broken links, incorrect hours, or outdated addresses and phone numbers, can cost potential customers. These errors are generally an easy fix, but a busy owner might not even be aware of them. Keeping multiple accounts up-to-date on Facebook, Yelp, and Google can be challenging as a small business grows.
If you notice one of these common online errors, take a moment to email or call the business to let them know. By taking the extra minute to contact the business owner, you can help them with their online image and show your support for their growth.
Word-of-mouth is one of the best advertising tools for small businesses. Like reviews, word-of-mouth has a significant influence on people’s purchasing habits, and most people trust their friends’ opinions when making a purchase.
One of the best ways to support a small business in your community is to tell a friend or family member about their products or services. By letting a friend know about a product you love, you might be able to add a potential new customer for that business.
Do you have a birthday, holiday, or special event coming up and need a gift? Most people love getting products from small, locally owned businesses. Plus, small businesses often offer discounts or sales around the holidays, so you might just snag a great deal.
The next time you need a gift, buy it from a small business in your community. Not only are these gifts more unique than one purchased from big retailers, but they help support small businesses.
If you want to go the extra mile for your favorite small business, reach out to the business owner with a personalized thank you. A simple thanks shows that you care about the business and its impact. Send an email, a direct message on social media, or tell employees in person. Your words could brighten a struggling business owner’s day and help them stay motivated during tough times.
The single most important way to support a small business is to remain a loyal customer. Small businesses rely heavily on regular customers who support them over time. You can make a difference by simply continuing to purchase products or services from a small business you trust.
Are you passionate about supporting small businesses? Check out some of our Swyft Small Business Spotlight articles, where we share the stories of our favorite small businesses from around the country.
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