Small businesses may be small, but they’re mighty. In fact, they make up almost all U.S. employer firms and nearly half of private-sector employment. They’re also numerous: There are 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S. that provide jobs for more than 58 million employees.
Small businesses aren’t just important to the economy; they also make up the social fabric of our communities. From the indie bookstore where you buy your latest book club read to the local coffee shop where you get your morning latte, small businesses give our cities and towns distinct character.
This year, the novel coronavirus pandemic has hit small businesses hard. An April 2020 report from the Main Street Network found that nearly 3.5 million small businesses were at risk of closing permanently this year. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to support small businesses. In honor of November’s Small Business Saturday, here are six ways to support these enterprises this month and beyond.
1. Shop Retail Businesses and Be Flexible
Keep your dollars local. Doing so will help keep your community members employed and keep your favorite shops open for business. Rather than shopping for toys on big e-commerce sites, hit up a toy store that sells locally made goods. Rather than buying a bike online, head to your neighborhood bike shop for custom fitting and great customer service.
Additionally, as a result of the novel coronavirus, many small businesses that didn’t previously have an e-commerce site have leapt into online shopping. You may be able to find the products you love online. Many stores offer free shipping or delivery.
Keep in mind that local businesses may be operating differently these days. They may have limited operating hours or they may ask you to make a shopping appointment to keep store capacity low. Try to be understanding of these differences and go with the flow. Some changes may actually make shopping more convenient. For example, many stores now offer delivery or curbside pickup.
2. Buy a Gift Card
Even if you don’t need anything now, you can buy a gift card to save for future use. You may also get a jump start on holiday gifts, or upcoming birthday or anniversary gifts with a gift card purchase now. Doing so will give the business a cash infusion when it needs it most. Plus, you’ll be able to cross gift shopping off your to-do list early.
3. Sign up for a Subscription Service
Subscribing to a service that offers monthly goods or services will provide small businesses support over the long haul. For example, consider signing up for a monthly or weekly community-supported agriculture (CSA) box from an area farm.
4. Get Moving
Since many gyms are operating with limited capacity, now is the time to try at-home workouts or private training sessions.
5. Order out and Don’t Forget to Tip
Even amid changing circumstances, many restaurants are offering take out. Consider supporting a local eatery with a to-go meal or getting your meal delivered.
The coronavirus is particularly hurting service and tip-based workers financially. With fewer customers, these employees are earning less than usual. If you’re able to do so, tip a little more generously than usual to help them through these uncertain times. If you’ve saved money with a discount or free delivery, siphon what you would have spent into a better tip. You’ll be doing your part to help your community members earn a living and help your favorite restaurants stay open.
6. Spread the Word
You can support small businesses without spending a cent. Small businesses rely heavily on reviews on sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Google. Spend a little time leaving your favorite local enterprises positive reviews to help other customers find them. Be sure to add photos if you can because that will add more value to the review.
Additionally, use your social media presence (however large or small) to share about the great experiences you’ve had with a small business. You should also engage actively with the social media posts businesses share. Liking and commenting on their posts, and sharing their posts outright will increase the information’s reach, allowing the business to speak to a larger audience than they would have been able to otherwise. Hopefully, a larger audience will lead to more sales.
As we move into the season of giving, consider how you can give back by shopping small. You’ll get great goods and services in exchange. It’s a win-win!