Even one year after the first wave of COVID-19, it’s still being talked about. It’s not because COVID is a buzzword that generates clicks and views; it’s because there is so much to learn from the pandemic that shook the world. One of the biggest impacts the virus has had that needs to be discussed is how small businesses were directly affected.
What You Can Do to Support Small Businesses
Around nine million small businesses in the United States fear that they’ll be unable to survive the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is without mentioning the many establishments that have already closed up shop for good. Now more than ever, these businesses need the support of local consumers to keep them afloat.
National Small Business Week falls on the first week of May every year.
Right now is the time to support local companies that have a direct impact on your community. In 2021, Small Business Week will run from May 2nd to May 8th. Use these days, and the rest of the year, to reach out to these businesses in the following ways:
Alter Your Shopping Route
Most consumers develop a shopping routine that becomes a part of their lives. Oftentimes these routines involve large corporations that offer a lot of conveniences. If you’re under this same spell that keeps you going to Wal-Mart every week, consider changing up your routine to include more small businesses.
In many cases, people aren’t shopping with small businesses because they haven’t given them a fair shot. During National Small Business Week, set a goal to visit a few small businesses in our area. To keep yourself accountable, plan these trips in your Calendar. For example, you can plan to swing by a local coffee shop on your way to work instead of going to Starbucks like always.
Spread the Word
Spreading the word about small businesses costs you nothing, but can mean the world to small business owners. With minimal effort, you can increase their exposure and traffic and do your part to help them heal after enduring COVID-19.
Social media is often the weapon of choice for consumers looking to spread the word about their favorite companies. You can write up a quick post or simply share something directly from the company’s page. Most of your social media friends and followers are likely from the same region, so what you share will be relevant to them.
Post something useful to a business of your choice — and you can direct some friends and family to a small business in need.
You can also leave online reviews as a way to build up small businesses. A 2020 consumer survey shows that 87% of shoppers will read online reviews before visiting a local business. The better the reviews, the more likely an internet browser is to stop by.
Be sure to make a trip to a small business yourself before leaving a review, so your information is accurate.
Small businesses often put on events as a way to get more people to their store for the first time. This can be something as simple as a week-long sale or a weekend barbeque to lure customers with free food. Whatever they choose to do, making an appearance is a fun way to familiarize yourself with small businesses in your area.
Keep an eye out for events occurring in your home town. Add a few of them to your Calendar just to make an appearance. Who knows, you might find a great deal or discover your new favorite business after attending the right event.
If you’re really gung ho about helping small businesses, you can volunteer your services as an event planner. Helping a small business put on its own event is a worthwhile and gratifying effort. The company might even reward you in exchange for your goodwill and service.
Not everything you buy from a small business has to be for yourself. To better justify a one-time purchase in support of National Small Business Week, look for gifts to purchase for others. Besides, who can turn down a gift sent from a loved one?
Sometimes shopping for others can be easier than shopping for yourself. If you’re not sure what exactly to get, purchase a gift card. This supports the business and gives the gift recipient some flexibility. You might bring the small business a new loyal customer after they cash that gift certificate in later on.
Ask Local Leaders
No one understands the struggles small businesses are facing more than the owners of local businesses themselves. To really know how to make an impact, ask them yourself. If nothing else, they’ll appreciate that a local citizen cared enough to reach out to them to see what they can do to help.
Schedule a time to meet with a small business leader in your online Calendar.
Be prepared to help a local business — and don’t be surprised if the meetings turn into a request for assistance. If you plan to reach out, be prepared to deliver on your promise to do what you can to help small businesses thrive.
Whether that’s volunteering for a weekend or lending your career expertise to help with a project, including some time in your Calendar to lend a helping hand.
Small businesses need your help to recover from COVID-19 and to flourish in the years to come. These bullet points won’t just be useful during National Small Business Week. They’ll equip you with the ability to help your community’s entrepreneurs all year round.
Image Credit: kaique rocha; pexels; thank you!