Many small businesses are struggling as a result of closures and social distancing practices put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
How to Help Local Small Businesses
If you want to help local small businesses by supporting your favorite local shops, restaurants, and others stay afloat during this time, here are some ways you can do so.
Purchase Gift Certificates
If you can afford it, purchase gift cards from your favorite local businesses during this time. You’ll be supporting their operations when they need it most, and when businesses reopen, you’ll be able to enjoy your favorite goods and services that you’ve already paid for.
Order Takeout or Delivery
Restaurants in many states and cities are not open for dining in. However, you may still be able to get your favorite dishes delivered to your door. Or you could try picking up meals from those that offer it — just order ahead to avoid waiting in lines.
Purchase Products Online
For retail businesses where you’d normally shop in person, see if they’re offering online orders at this time. Even if their website isn’t set up to do so, they might offer flash sales on social media or other platforms.
Keep Memberships Going
Subscription or membership based businesses like gyms and fitness studios rely on steady sources of monthly income from members. Since many of these businesses have closed, customers are likely to get refunds or pauses on their memberships. However, if your income isn’t affected by shutdowns, consider keeping these memberships as-is.
Take Online Classes
Additionally, some gyms and similar businesses are finding ways to provide value through online classes. Even if you don’t belong to one already, spending extra time at home may be the perfect excuse to try something new while also supporting a local company.
Share Your Favorites on Social Media
You don’t need to have extra money to support small businesses during this time. If you’re concerned about your own finances but still want to help, shout out some of your favorite companies, products, or promotions on social media to let your friends know.
Connect with Companies Online
You can also help small businesses increase their online reach simply by interacting with their profiles. Follow a few more of your favorites, and then like and comment on their posts to improve their engagement. This will help more of their content show up in others’ feeds.
Leave Positive Reviews
Are there businesses in your area that you’ve always meant to leave a review for and just never got around to it? This period where you’re killing time at home is the perfect opportunity to help them gain some social proof and improve their online rankings. And it’s free!
Refer People Directly
Of course, you can also help simply by talking about your favorite small businesses to others via text, phone calls, or video calls.
Use Financing to Purchase Larger Items
Many small businesses offer financing or layaway options for larger purchases. Don’t purchase items you can’t afford, but if there’s something you were planning on buying anyway, now is the perfect time to get a good rate and keep your favorite shops afloat.
Contribute to Crowdfunding Campaigns
People around the country are starting crowdfunding campaigns to support small businesses and their employees that need financial assistance. Browse GoFundMe or social media to find causes you can contribute to.
Or Get a Campaign Started
If you can’t afford a donation or if there’s not a campaign started for your favorite local business, you could be the person who gets one off the ground. Consult with the company first to see what their needs are.
Create a Community Organization
If you want to support a variety of businesses in your area and get others involved, consider creating a community fund or support group. You can either collect money or come up with creative ideas to help local businesses. Use social media or local forums to facilitate conversations with others in your area.
Start a Local Business Directory
To help all the businesses in your area get more attention, create an online directory where people can easily find companies to support. You can even keep it going once foot traffic restores to facilitate a quicker recovery.
If you can afford it, tip restaurant employees and delivery drivers a bit extra during this time. This helps them make up for some of their lost earnings and helps their employers feel a bit less strained.
Offer Support Services
A little break in the action is the perfect opportunity for many small business owners to focus on things like marketing, creating a new logo, or building a website. However, the loss of customers means they may not be able to afford these services. If you specialize in an area that could help small businesses, offer your services for free or trade.
Start New Home Projects
Being stuck at home is the perfect excuse to do some light remodeling or redecorating. Purchase supplies from a local hardware store or order from online decor shops to make your space feel cozy during this prolonged period.
Take Up a New Hobby
It’s also a great opportunity to learn or try new things, like painting, playing a musical instrument, or building model cars. Purchase the supplies you need from small retailers. And get your information from small business owners as well. For example, there might be a piano teacher in your area offering online lessons or sharing videos on YouTube.
Buy Quarantine Gifts for Friends
Want to do something nice for the people in your life who are having a hard time? Purchase gifts from your favorite small retailers and have them shipped directly to your favorite people.
Stock Up on Items You’ll Need Later
You might also purchase items that you don’t need immediately, like gifts for birthdays that are a few months off or summer gear for your family to use in the backyard.
Purchase Virtual Products
Lots of small businesses are getting creative during this time by offering virtual or downloadable versions of their products. You may even be able to buy these for a lower rate than the physical products.
Send a Kind Note
A little kindness goes a long way, especially during stressful seasons. If you can’t support small businesses financially, send them a quick note via email or social media to tell them how much you appreciate it. You could make the team’s day.
For those who are ordering products or services from businesses that have had to make adjustments during this time, be patient. They probably aren’t used to the new processes they’ve been forced to pick up very quickly. So if shipping takes longer than you thought or the delivery process isn’t seamless, stay calm and be kind throughout your interactions.
Ask Business Owners How You Can Help
Some business owners may need help in areas outside of the obvious ones. If you know any entrepreneurs in your area or online, reach out and ask if there’s anything specific they need. Even if there isn’t, they’ll probably appreciate the sentiment.
Opt for Local Stores Over Chains When Possible
The general idea is to purchase from small stores or businesses during this time whenever possible. Even if you don’t have extra money you spend, heading to the corner market for groceries over the big box store can make a major difference for that business owner. This is ultimately a positive practice all the time, but it’s especially important now that many small businesses are struggling to stay afloat.
This article, “25 Tips for Supporting Small Businesses as a Customer” was first published on Small Business Trends