Small businesses have turned to each other in these unprecedented times. The strength of community and camaraderie has helped all of us forge ahead together. During these times, small businesses are especially important. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses are responsible for almost 42% of the private workforce. We also contribute to the economy all the way from an individual household to a local market to a national economy. Small businesses determine if an economy falters or thrives and prospers. The potential to stimulate economic growth and create jobs is why small businesses are considered the “backbone” of the nation.
As a small business owner, utilizing this unique potential together is critical. We have the power to push each other through these uncertain times. Done collectively, we can progress as a nation, while supporting each other as small business owners. Below are five simple ways small businesses can come together and support each other first.
1. Use your purchasing power to shop small businesses online and offline.
The idea of supporting small businesses came to the forefront with Small Business Saturday, which originated in 2010 by American Express and encourages consumers to Shop Small® in support of their local communities on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, in the times of the pandemic, we all need to think beyond local and beyond the holiday season. This past year has forced almost all small businesses online. Shop small businesses locally and online as well. This trend will continue even outside the pandemic, as small business owners, make it a habit to share small business websites to where others can buy as well. If you need a place to start, head to www.shopfromasmallbiz.com and for a directory of almost 600 small businesses in 15 different categories to choose from.
2. Build supporting small businesses into your current lifestyle.
Sometimes it feels like a big transition to support other small businesses as much as we can. Oftentimes we think about making small business purchases during the holidays or perhaps when we need gifts for special occasions. But, instead, build these purchases into your life on a regular basis – the purchases you make on a typical day. This is the premise that the Shop 1 in 5 pledge is created from. It’s a commitment to making 1 in 5 of your purchases from a small business. But, it encourages you to think about this in your everyday purchases, such as pantry items, school supplies, beauty products, home goods – could you make an intentional effort to shop one in five of your purchases from a small business? The movement essentially has you making 20% of your purchases going to small businesses but in a sustainable effort because it’s blending in your lifestyle choices, from buying from small restaurant pick-ups to coffee shops to online stores.
3. Post about a small business on your personal social media.
As a small business owner, we all have our own personal network and sphere of influence. We are also looked at as leaders of our community because we know what it means to pivot and motivate ourselves and your team. Posting on our own social media accounts, such as Facebook or Instagram, feels like an organic word-of-mouth referral to our friends and family. It is one of the most powerful things you can do to help a fellow small business and if there are small brands or businesses you are impressed with. Let your personal network know online with a post or video, so they can hear it, but also share it.
4. Show up for that business owner in a positive way.
The pandemic has felt like an isolating time. As small business owners, we have our purchasing power, but we also have the power of our words and encouragement. Let fellow small businesses know “you are not alone”. Comment on their posts in a positive way, show up to their Live videos, and share their events or sales. If you enjoyed an email, respond to one and let them know. Forward their emails and let them know you did. There is a real person behind each small business, just like you, and your kind words help them to keep going.
5. Hire fellow small businesses online and offline.
As a small business owner, you know that growth happens in the people you hire. Is there another small business that you hire for extra customer service? In production or shipping? Or in sales or website design? HIre during your own busy seasons of your business or for extra help during seasonal spikes and look to hire another small business owner first.
Jacqueline Snyder and Minna Khounlo-Sithep, co-hosts of The Product Boss Podcast and co-founders of the Shop 1 in 5 Pledge. Need more advice or strategy to grow your business? Check out The Product Boss website and podcast at www.theproductboss.com.
Photo courtesy: The Product Boss