Small businesses are persevering in spite of unprecedented challenges and in spite of the odds. The past year has taken its toll. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the number of employed small business owners began at 15 million pre-pandemic. In April, that number dwindled down to just 11.7 million — a 22% drop.
Still, a surprising number of small businesses are muddling through these uncertain times and some are even thriving, like Truckee, California’s Drink Coffee Do Stuff. Former snowboarder turned business owner Nick Visconti opened a coffee shop with his wife, Laura, just two months before the nationwide lockdown. Visconti attributes his unlikely success to serving coffee to-go directly from his front window, distributing his coffee blends in stores, and selling sports and outdoor gear.
Once an elite athlete, Visconti now decorates his coffee shop with bicycles and snowboards and sells a variety of outdoor-themed gear, including sweatshirts, tank tops, baseball caps, and insulated mugs. The renewed interest in outdoor activities during the lockdown boosted his sales.
That is not all Visconti attributes to his unlikely success. “I’ve learned for a decade-plus how to take a beating in life and persevere in spite of it,” the small business owner recounts to the Sierra Nevada Ally. “My wife, my business partner, Brad [Farmer], our entire staff, I mean, everyone works so hard.”
Unfortunately, there are plenty of business owners who have not been quite as fortunate. That is where you come in. Support from the local community is invaluable to small business owners. In fact, it can make all the difference. Learn how to support small business for free. Start with the pointers below.
The Importance Of Small Business In the United States
Small businesses are a critical part of society. Often, they are markedly more important and more beneficial on a local and federal level than big-box retailers. Here are some of the advantages of small businesses that large corporations do not even begin to touch:
- Small businesses generate meaningful jobs. For the most part, jobs within large corporations may feel rote or of little substance. It’s no wonder. If you spend your entire workday, day after day, gathering things off a shelf and putting them into a bin, it gets monotonous. Small businesses have fewer workers, and that means that workers often take on a greater number of responsibilities. Having plenty of things to do — and plenty of different things to do — means more meaning and higher job satisfaction.
- Small businesses fuel the local community. When you make a purchase at a small, local business, that profit goes directly into the local economy. The small business owner is much more likely to make purchases in the local area supporting local businesses as well. Of course, many local business owners are much more overt in their efforts to support one another. Instead of just funneling more money into local businesses, most small businesses also support one another by singing each other’s praises, allowing local businesses to advertise their services using business cards or a communal bulletin board, or even taking part in fundraisers, charities, and local events bringing together several businesses and organizations in the area.
Small business owners often live where they work, and that gives them a sense of loyalty to the surrounding community. For example, if selling a business is inevitable, small business owners are far more likely to do what’s best for their neighbors, not simply what is best for their bottom line.
- Small businesses are more diverse. Large corporations are not as selective when it comes to hiring. They need a lot of employees, and they do what they can to meet those numbers. Small businesses have the luxury of focusing on exceptional and diverse candidates. More small business employees come from diverse cultures, backgrounds, and walks of life than their corporate counterparts.
Before learning the specifics on how to support small business for free, it is important to understand that small businesses are — and will continue to be — an integral part of local communities as well as our economy.
Follow Social Media Pages
Stumped about how to support small business for free? One of the simplest ways to lend your support is to follow small businesses on social media.
According to Yahoo! Small Business, nearly three-fourths (74%) of consumers turn to social media before making purchases. Fifty-six percent look at their Facebook every single day, and Facebook shares dramatically influence search engine rankings. Shoppers also frequent sites like Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest, making them valuable tools for business owners. The facts are simple. Your fellow consumers are extremely active on social media. Support local businesses by following them on social media and being as active as possible on their pages.
For example, if you make use of a local residential painting service and they do exceptional work, return the favor by liking their Facebook page and following them on Instagram.
Like and Comment On Posts
If you still want to help after following businesses’ social media pages, do one better by liking their posts and commenting on them.
While your initial support is a great start and having more followers will ultimately benefit their business, by liking and commenting on their posts you continue to draw more attention to their company and that often translates to them winning over more customers. Think about the last time you were headed out to a local seafood restaurant. If you did not know where to go, where did you turn? Chances are, you would be much more likely to order from a restaurant that you continually see a family member or friend raving about on Facebook or on Instagram.
To be as helpful as possible, look out for things that may stand out on their social media posts. If they are asking their customers to engage with a particular hashtag, use it. Take photos of your meal, and tag the restaurant’s Instagram or Facebook page. Share their Facebook after a particularly great meal or customer service experience, or participate in giveaways and contests on small businesses’ social media pages.
Wondering how to support small business for free? One of the most effective ways to do that is to follow them on social media, like their posts, and be active on their posts.
Share Posts And News Stories About Small Businesses In Your Community
Another small way that you can contribute to the success of your favorite small business is to share their blog posts. If you are a passionate fan of a local business selling organic cosmetics and bath products and want to help, go ahead and share their most recent blog post about the benefits of all natural soap. Some of your friends may be genuinely interested to learn more, and they may end up purchasing their products after reading a particularly well-written and persuasive blog.
Similarly, many local businesses are featured by the local paper and local news outlets. Don’t let that go unnoticed. If your favorite pizza place earns the title “Best Wings in Atlanta 2021,” share the news article with your friends. Knowing that they won a local contest for best-tasting wings will bring more people into their doors. Likewise, if a cherished local business is featured as a success or local business to watch, take a few seconds to share this write-up on social media.
Leave Positive Reviews On Small Businesses’ Websites
Don’t overthink how to support small business for free. Your support can be straightforward and effective as leaving a glowing review on their website.
For example, if you order custom T-shirts for teams — whether it is a children’s sports team, adult sports team, or a team of employees — and the results far exceed your expectations, leave a review letting other people know! Try to make your review as helpful as possible. Describe your customer service experience. Describe the fit and quality of their T-shirts. Include any reasons why you plan to order from them again. If their website allows for it, include a picture clearly showing the product. If they specialize in custom shirts for teams, make sure to attach a picture of your team in their matching apparel.
Subscribe to Emails
Email marketing is one of the most effective tools for small businesses. A full 92% of U.S. adults use email regularly. Learning how to support small business for free can take a matter of seconds. Simply subscribe to their email list.
Subscribing to small businesses’ emails benefits them — and it benefits you, too. By subscribing, you will be in the loop. You will receive any important news about the local business, and they are likely to send you emails about relevant sales, promotions, and events as well. Instead of paying full price for a given item, you may be privy to a promotional code that they only distribute through their email list.
Refer People to Small Businesses Through Word Of Mouth
For those considering how to support small business for free, the reality is that you do not even need a smartphone or a computer. Lend your support through word of mouth.
While the medium may seem antiquated to some, it remains a wildly effective marketing tool for businesses — especially small businesses. If you have great experiences with your local family dentist, and friends and family come to you asking for recommendations, don’t be shy. Tell them about your dentist. Being proactive also helps. If your experience is that good, let people know even before they ask.
Attend Events In Your Community Hosted By Small Businesses
The vast majority of small businesses host events frequently — or at least from time to time — to help get their name out there, to support others, and for a whole host of different reasons. To find events in your area, follow their social media pages, follow your local community’s social media pages, and/or keep an eye out for signage outside local businesses or around town advertising upcoming local events.
Events may include anything from a bake sale, local fundraiser, farmer’s market, networking event, volunteer event, festivals, or documentary work. Many small businesses will agree to be on the news or in a documentary to help the local community while getting more exposure.
Consider How Your Profession or Workplace Can Help
As previously mentioned, one of the strengths of local businesses is helping each other. When you are contemplating how to support small business for free, consider whether there is anything you or your employer can do.
If you work for a local IT company, perhaps you can help a local business troubleshoot problems with their website or teach them how to take full advantage of cloud computing and cloud storage. Similarly, small business accountants may want to lend their hand to local businesses during tax season. Offer your services pro bono for a day or two or at a heavily discounted fee.</>
Make the proposition appealing for your employer by asking that they help you in return. If you work with a local pizza place, perhaps they, in turn, can give you free pizza and let you display your business cards on the counter near their register.
Ask Big Corporations for Donations
One final thing to consider when working out how to support small business for free is looking to big corporations for help. When it comes to large corporations and small businesses, it does not have to be us versus them. It can make large corporations look good to support smaller ones. People in the local community appreciate the gesture and feel as if bigger companies are doing their part. Small businesses, of course, benefit from any donations or help from these corporations. A corporation can make a big impression by donating something like an electronic vehicle or EV charging station to a local mechanic, for example.
Learning how to support small business for free is easy. There are several ways to make a tremendous difference — and to do it with relatively little effort. Make a few clicks today to help your favorite local business.