It’s no secret that the recent COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way our world works and looks. Some shifts have been for the better as our water and air start to clear and heal.
But many changes have been devastating. And for small business owners, this crisis is life-altering. Fortunately, there are ways to support small businesses in your community from the safety of your home.
Interruptions Always Hit Small Businesses First
Owning a business of any size is not for the faint of heart. But keeping a small business running can feel like more than a full-time job for the entrepreneurs in the trenches.
With little room for disruption in operating budgets, these companies are at the highest risk of failure when an interruption occurs. And when these things happen, small businesses are the least likely to survive unscathed.
Businesses can take a hit from many unexpected events:
- Extreme Weather
- Economic Downturns
- Widespread Health Emergencies
And income reduction isn’t the only thing that can affect small business owners during these times. Company-paid healthcare or paid time off is not a thing for most entrepreneurs.
If they get sick or suddenly have children home from school, they have to keep running their company anyway.
Why Do Small Businesses Matter?
Many people don’t realize how vital small businesses are to the American economy. With more than 30 million companies in this category, they make up 99.9% of all US businesses. So if they falter, the nation falters.
These companies are the ones who are filling needs directly in the communities in which they live. Their dollars do not go into the offshore accounts of highly-paid C-class officers.
Their money goes right back into their community to keep the economic cycle flowing.
A family-owned auto shop might use its money to pay for an art camp for their children. The art camp owner goes out to eat at a local restaurant with their income.
And the restaurant employs several other neighbors from the community.
Small businesses often are also the most loyal supporters of nonprofits and neighborhood events.
- They sponsor the Little League teams.
- They advertise in the dance school’s recital program.
- They volunteer at the local food bank.
Did Amazon pay for the new band instruments at your local high school? I doubt it. It was probably your neighborhood pizzeria or ice cream shop.
Micro businesses and small businesses are vital to a healthy economy. But they are the most vulnerable when disasters strike.
How You Can Support a Small Business Right Now
People often think the only way they can contribute to a company’s health and viability is to be a customer. Of course, that’s important. Someone has to buy the services or products, or the small business fails.
But there are so many other ways you can help, as well. And some of them don’t cost a dime. When downturns and interruptions happen, you probably will not have extra income to keep buying from every small business. That’s ok. You can still help!
Here are six ways you can help out a local small business during a crisis.
1. Follow On Social Media
In our modern virtual world, algorithms mean everything. One of the simplest ways to boost a small business is to follow them on all the social media outlets. This easy act helps them to show up in front of more people online. More visibility leads to more sales.
This support is crucial during the current coronavirus emergency. Many brick-and-mortars are shut down, especially high-touch businesses such as spas, salons, and wellness centers. They need to stay in the minds of consumers right now while they can’t work in person.
Think of all the small businesses you have worked with or made purchases from in the past. Now, take ten minutes and go follow them on:
Voila! And it didn’t cost you anything.
2. Share and Interact on Social Media
Now that you have liked and followed all the small businesses around you, you can take it up a notch. Algorithms reward interaction and engagement.
So the next easy way to support a small company is to interact with their social media posts.
When you share or comment on their posts, videos, and pages, they become more visible on that platform. And if you know of small companies that are creating virtual classes and workshops, find their events on Facebook and mark “Interested.” Again, this increases their presence online.
3. Leave Fabulous Reviews to Support Small Businesses
Another no-cost way to support a micro business or small business is to share your experience with the world through a review. Reviews are the lifeblood for most companies, so offering yours is an excellent way to help them.
Facebook and Google are great spots to tell everyone how fantastic your favorite small business is. Be specific, authentic, and enthusiastic in your review to give the company a lift. One important note: do not leave a review of a business if you’ve never used them, even to be helpful. These need to be genuine to be most effective.
4. Buy Gift Certificates
Many spots are closed for the time being during the COVID-19 pandemic. With no clear end in sight, they are struggling. There is no way to sugarcoat the facts. These owners are fighting for the lives of their businesses.
If you are in the position to purchase a gift certificate for a local business, please do. It provides an immediate influx of cash for the company and could make the difference between keeping an employee or laying them off.
In fairness, this is a riskier way to support a small business. There is always the chance they could have to shut down permanently before you can use the gift certificate.
But if you have the funds to do so, it could mean that a mom or dad can buy groceries that day.
5. Check Out Their Online Options
Is your favorite deli offering curbside pickup? Maybe your local gym is offering online classes? Is the toy store near you making deliveries now?
Take a look to see if the small businesses around you are pivoting in some way that you can utilize. Some fine dining restaurants are now offering “meals in a box.”
You buy and pick up all the ingredients for a meal from them. Then they send you a video to watch on how to prepare it. That’s thinking inside the box!
6. Be Patient while you support small business
Now is the most challenging time that small businesses have faced in recent generations. And the fact that there is no way to know when things will resolve is making it even harder. So please be patient with these folks.
They’re heads are spinning as they try to navigate all the things involved in staying viable. They are making tough decisions about layoffs and trying to decide how to pay the bills.
If you call or message them, offer some grace if they take time to get back to you. They are trying.
What If You Are a Small Business?
If you are an entrepreneur, you probably find yourself facing tremendous uncertainty right now. But there are still things you can do to keep your company moving forward.
This is an excellent time to create content for your website and your social media accounts. If you have been avoiding it because you didn’t have time, well…here you go.
Right now is also a perfect chance to network with other business owners. Many groups have moved to virtual meetups, so you can still stay connected. Your network can support each other’s small businesses as well.
There are organizations for many different niches, including a nationwide networking group just for mom-owned businesses.
We Got This
Business owners are innovative and resilient. They are creative and hard-working. And they are critical to our nation’s economic survival.
So do your part today to support a small business near you. It’s too simple and too important to ignore. And if you’re looking for ways to build your resistance to stress, check out Best Ways to Reduce Stress.
*Note from Shit Women Buy – Thanks Kristin Ratten for your insight in additional ways we can all support small businesses. We are so excited to have you as a guest contributor!
In addition to being a freelance writer, Kristin is the owner of Little Lambs Christian Montessori School in Beaverton, OR, where she wrangles preschoolers for fun.
She also is a Meetup Leader for The MOB Nation, supporting mom-owned businesses as they grow and thrive.
Kristin and her husband, Jason, live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with their four kids and a dog. When she’s not writing or teaching, she loves reading and drinking copious amounts of coffee.
She also enjoys completing DIY home improvement projects. Usually poorly.