Here’s to Helping Small Businesses Succeed in Unpredictable Times: 5 Ways Your Family Can Help

Across the country, plenty of the more than 30 million small businesses are looking forward to 2021 bringing tremendous relief in the form of sales. Due to COVID’s impact during 2020, many owners had to close their stores. Other entrepreneurs put growth hopes on hold. Others tried to partner with other companies in their communities, attempting to form new partnerships to stay alive. Fortunately, both governments and consumers are helping small businesses succeed.

For instance, in California, the state is offering what should amount to the second round of PPP-related loans and grants aimed directly at helping small businesses succeed and avoid closing. According to officials, the grants begin at $5,000 and end at the $25,000 mark. They can be used for basic operational expenses, much like a capital working loan. However, they don’t have to be paid back necessarily. Californian small companies may end up receiving around a half-billion dollars worth of assistance, if not more.

Of course, helping small businesses succeed doesn’t have to mean giving out financial aid. Shoppers can choose to patronize local establishments instead of shopping at bigger places, such as online markets. That’s what’s happening in some towns in Virginia, where communities are rallying around their nearby shops and choosing to spend their dollars at their neighbors’ businesses. These include everything from restaurants to tattoo parlors. In response, business owners are making shopping easier and more convenient for the people who continue to keep them afloat.

To be sure, helping small businesses succeed takes a team effort. It’s not something one family or individual can do. Yet together, everyone can change the way they approach consumerism in 2021 because buying differently can honestly make a difference. Still, it can seem overwhelming for households to figure out which companies to support when helping small businesses succeed. One way is to look for some specific markers to figure out which organizations have the biggest need.

Small Businesses Need Our Help

Which small business should you focus on when you’re passionate about helping small businesses succeed? Honestly, any and all of the local stores in your area, right down to the tax specialist working out of her home or the business lawyer who’s set up shop at a communal incubator office space. Truly, every type and iteration of business could use a boost.

Does that mean you should avoid shopping at big-box retailers or franchises? Not necessarily. Remember: Any company that operates in your hometown is sending money back into the economy. Additionally, larger or national franchises and retailers add jobs to a city. Therefore, your money is indirectly going back into everyone’s pocket.

To be sure, no business couldn’t use a bit of assistance. As part of your new year’s resolutions, why not add helping small businesses succeed to your checklist? Then, follow through on five strategic ways to stand out in a wonderful way. The techniques below don’t take a lot of time to implement. Nonetheless, they could make it possible for a local company to weather the pandemic and not have to fully shut down.

Oh, and you’ll be happy to know that you don’t always have to give or spend money in order to play a part in helping small businesses succeed in your region of the nation. You just have to make some important and thoughtful choices.

1. Like, Comment, and Share Posts on Social Media

Like it or not, the world runs on two things: Caffeine and social media. Caffeine won’t matter much when you’re helping small businesses succeed, unless you’re opting to buy all your coffee from a down-the-street roaster. On the other hand, what you say on social media could have a great deal of impact for a small company or startup.

How many times have you leaned on social media referrals and suggestions before making a purchase? Probably more than you realized. This is a common behavior among consumers because social media channels have become go-to places to research brands before committing to a purchase. From Facebook pages to Instagram images, social media visuals and creative copy can boost a company’s online appearance and even search engine relevance.

The next time you have an amazing experience at a local store, like a pub or even the gym, tweet or post about it. You don’t have to spend a lot of time to give a raving review. Be honest, of course, but be a little sales-y as well. There’s nothing wrong with trying to encourage everyone who follows you to patronize a specific organization.

How could this play out in a real-world experience? Let’s say you just hired a landscape maintenance provider in advance of your spring planting needs. Rather than just sit back and feel you’ve done your part, be sure to talk up the business online. After they get started, share pictures of how their work has improved the curb appeal of your property. Be sure to tag them appropriately.

This method of helping small businesses succeed truly matters. Businesses will be very pleased to see that they’ve exceeded your expectations. At the same time, they’ll have to pay less for marketing because you’ll be giving them some referral advertising for free. To be sure, you’ll probably save them a lot, especially if you have loads of local followers on your social media.

At the end of the day, a kind word from you could mean an important sale for a company you trust, and that’s huge in helping small businesses succeed.

2. Post Your Family’s Own Experiences

As you start getting used to talking about your buying experiences online, why not treat those experiences as a chance to go into ‘storyteller mode?’ Essentially, you could always document a before, during, and after visit or experience with a local establishment.

For example, pretend you’ve been eagerly awaiting a master bathroom remodel. You ask for three bids from local contractors and choose one. Before work starts, put pictures online revealing your ugly bathroom. Be descriptive and get viewers commenting. Tell them how thrilled you are that you’ll be working with ‘XYZ Company’ to revitalize one of the most trafficked places in your home.

As work begins, snap images after each major plateau, such as after the new tile floor’s been installed, or after the contractor has set up your expanded two-sink vanity. Again, post your images online and rave about the results. Get followers interested in knowing more about your progress by making the project a visual story.

By the time your contractor’s finished, you’ll have done your work in helping small businesses succeed by highlighting the contractor’s finished product. You’ll also have a wonderful new bathroom to enjoy, too!

This kind of digital storytelling can be for anything you do, such as get your child’s cosmetic dental treatment in the form of quick braces, or go to a salon for a 2021 hairstyle that’s totally on-trend. In fact, some platforms, like TikTok and Instagram Stories, are perfectly suited for you to create story-style videos or visual snippets. And the upshot is that you’ll be creative, have loads of fun, and be helping small businesses succeed by giving shout-outs.

Who knows? The businesses you talk about might be willing to help you, too, if you have a company as well. Swapping kudos online could be more lucrative than you might imagine.

3. Write Stellar Online Reviews

In addition to social media, platforms like Yelp and Google are go-to places for reviews. Whenever possible and applicable, leave a wonderful local business a good review. Make a special note to yourself to do this daily because it’s easy to forget to write about the awesome auto paint repair job you received. Instead, most customers will pay the bill and go on their merry way.

You could even put a special note on your to-do calendar to write reviews every few days. That way, you could start a bullet point list of all the companies you’ve dealt with during the preceding 72-hour period. Don’t forget about everyday organizations like the roofing business who repaired the flashing around your chimney or the HVAC technician who came after-hours to fix your loud, knocking furnace.

What should your online review include? Although it’s nice to give a company four or five stars as a way of hopefully helping small businesses succeed, it’s better to be specific. That means outlining what the business did for you, and why you’re happy about it. Many review sites allow you to include pictures, which may or may not be pertinent depending upon why you’re leaving a review.

At the end of your review, you could even add a slight call-to-action to encourage readers to take the plunge and work with the company. Don’t worry about sounding too much like a salesperson for the organization. Just be honest but show your pleasure at working with a professional establishment. Remember, too, that you don’t have to pretend that the business was perfect. If you weren’t 100% happy, but were mostly happy, that’s okay.

4. Shop and Hire Small as Often as Possible

The next time you want to buy something out of the ordinary, like a sympathy or thank-you bouquet for a colleague, resist the temptation to go with a national provider online. Rather, look for a smaller option, like relying on your community’s best florist with a robust flower delivery service. Yes, you might pay a little more, but your money will stay within your neighborhood and go toward the greater public good in the form of local taxes and future consumer transactions.

Best of all, buying at smaller merchants is helping small businesses succeed at their finest. You might not realize it, but your purchase could help a company finally have just enough to buy some used bobcats to rent out to avid snowmobile lovers or rental equipment for warehousing purposes. It’s not impossible to imagine that by choosing your neighbor’s business, you could be having an impact far beyond merely making a purchase.

Does it take more time to deliberately shop in town? Sometimes, yet. It can feel more convenient to just shop from your mobile device. However, don’t assume that you can’t have convenience when buying locally. Many local merchants have added delivery, online ordering, and curbside service to their offerings since the beginning of COVID. Don’t count out any community providers before you check them out.

5. Attend Events Held By Small Businesses

As more cities and towns open up thanks to the widespread availability of COVID vaccines, you’ll have additional ways of helping small businesses succeed by attending events. In addition, you could probably ‘attend’ online events, too, such as those live-streamed on Facebook or available on Zoom.

Local organizations often use virtual and in-person events to showcase their abilities and educate the population. For instance, a full-service spa might conduct a live-streamed brow microblading QandA workshop. Similarly, a kitchen goods shop could host a small course on buying a cast iron skillet and seasoning it to perfection.

Your role in helping small businesses succeed is to try to attend these events whenever it’s feasible. Certainly, not all events will appeal to you, and that’s okay. However, be open to looking for ones that might be interesting or intriguing. See if there are some geared toward the younger set, too: Kids are often looking for entertainment and might appreciate attending a laid-back, socially distant gathering at a store. In fact, your children might like having something different to do, particularly if they’ve been occupied with nothing but home life and school.

No matter what you do, you owe it to your community to stay deliberately involved well into 2021 and the following years. It will take time for small businesses to get back into full swing after the economic plunge of COVID and 2020. Still, it’s possible for you to play the role of superhero and save the day, even if you just do it one social media post, review, or local purchase at a time.

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