Small businesses are the backbone and heart of many towns and cities across the country. It’s even said they are the foundation of our economy and leaders in innovation. At Main Street America, we agree and are invested in their success. Afterall, we got our start as a small business – and now protect our neighbors so we can grow together.
So just what is a small business? That answer may depend on who you ask and what you’re looking for. No matter how you define “small businesses,” there’s no question about the impact they make in our communities and in our lives. In fact, a recent report revealed 44% of US economic activity comes from small businesses. That includes the family-run restaurant down the street, your landscaping service, the organic farmer you see at the farmers market and the independently owned drugstore your community is lucky to still have.
It's likely you have a friend, family member or neighbor who owns or works for a small business and you want to do something to help them and their business succeed. By supporting local businesses, we can invest in our communities and invigorate our local economy. Here’s how to support small businesses:
1. Start Local
When shopping, start with the small businesses in your community instead of heading right to the larger retailers. You might be surprised to learn how many of your basic needs and wants can be satisfied without leaving your local business district. You may also discover some new locally made or sourced products that you enjoy.
2. Make Online Purchases
If you’re wondering how to support small local businesses in the easiest way possible, get out your phone or computer. Online shopping is an easy way to send meaningful, locally sourced gifts to distant friends or family members. There are even some small businesses that only operate through a virtual storefront instead of a traditional brick and mortar store to make their prices lower and increase your convenience.
3. Buy a Gift Card
Gift cards are a great way to support a local business and spread the word about a cool company. Next holiday season, consider buying gift cards from your favorite small business to share with your loved ones. They’ll get something they really want and you can help out a local business in your town with the sale and word-of-mouth.
4. Avoid Purchasing through Third Parties
Third party services such as food delivery services may be convenient, but they cut into, or cut out, the profit margin for small restaurants in your community. Order your food directly from the family-owned restaurant down the street, whether you choose pick up or dine in. When you do, 100% of the profit from your purchase goes to the business and not a third-party delivery service. The same idea applies to other community shops and services — shop directly with the provider whenever possible to support them.
5. Buy Merch
Community shops, restaurants and service providers may not have the funds to advertise, but you can help support these small local businesses by buying their branded merchandise. Wearing a T-shirt from the corner coffee shop or your favorite family-owned restaurant gives them free publicity. You’re helping increase their brand recognition and also giving the business your personal endorsement.
6. Show Your Support on Social
Even when you’re not in the market for something, you can still show the local businesses in your area some love on social media. Sharing their content, using the business name in a post or liking their page will give small businesses a boost.
7. Leave a Positive Review
Reviews help small businesses build a following but too often people only leave a review if they have a complaint. Writing a positive review for a local business may encourage other people to visit and can make the business owner and employees feel good. Simply search Google for the business listing and click on the “Write a review” tab.
8. Show Your Support on Small Business Holidays
Local retail businesses rely on a big bump in sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, was established to help small businesses get in on the pre-Christmas sales boom. You can be part of the supportive frenzy felt throughout the small business community by remembering to make your holiday purchases on Small Business Saturday and throughout the holiday season.
In the spring, you can show your support on National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day. Every year on March 29, you can celebrate the shops and services that fuel our communities by shopping locally and at small businesses.
by Dave Medvidofsky