How To Support a Small Business: Help Your Community Thrive

Customers 22 minute read 25th March 2021

Shopping malls are slowly declining, but that doesn’t mean every customer is flocking to online stores. People still love window shopping and buying products in person. Thankfully, shopping small is picking up steam and supporting local economies nationwide.

Supporting small businesses can significantly impact a local community’s economic health. When you support a small business, you help your community thrive.

Want to learn how? You might be interested in knowing why it is important to support local businesses and in what ways we can do our part. Let’s break down how to support a small business in various ways that might be outside the box.

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Is It Important to Support Small Businesses?

Before going into how to support a small business, you might wonder, “Is it important to support small businesses?” The short answer is yes; it is vital for local communities. Let’s explain with an analogy.

When small businesses fail due to a lack of adequate support from the community, it’s akin to having minor organs in the human body shut down one by one. Once this occurs in the body, the cumulative effect causes the whole body to fail. In this analogy, when local small businesses start to fail, the entire economy takes a negative hit.

This harsh reality came to the forefront during the pandemic. Countless small businesses struggled to stay afloat while many others closed their doors for good. People either lost their source of income or suffered substantial pay cuts. As consumer spending took a nosedive, local economies also suffered.

One of the pandemic’s lessons was that small businesses play a vital economic role and deserve all the support they can get.

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3 Reasons Why We Should Support Small Businesses

Now that you understand their importance to the economy, you might ask, “Why should we support small businesses? Is it that important for locals to shop at them?” By understanding why you should patronize independent business establishments in your community, you’ll be happier knowing how your local spending habits help keep the local economy robust. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Small businesses often face challenges that are bigger than they are — competition from chain stores, fewer resources for marketing and advertising, a lack of secure funding, and the constant threat of recession are just a few examples. Supporting small businesses in your community does not require much effort or spending. But the positive effects cascade far beyond small business owners’ humble profit margins.

Here are three ways why we should support small businesses:

1. When You Support a Small Business, You Help the Local Economy

Small businesses bring more money from outside of the area and into the community. When you support a small business, they thrive, and the community attracts more visitors who spend locally. The rise of online sales can stimulate local business earnings even more.

By generating more revenue, these businesses feed the local economy by paying taxes. Spending more money means funding local districts, organizations, and vital infrastructure for local governments.

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2. Small Businesses Generate More Jobs

This concept is simple. When you have small businesses thriving in your area, you have more job opportunities for locals. Local jobs decrease long commutes and have a lower environmental impact.

When you buy locally, you allow more money to circulate within the local economy. Greater circulation contributes to community development, known as the “multiplier effect.” Independent We Stand managing partner Bill Brunelle describes the “multiplier effect” this way:

“If you buy at a hardware store, that owner may hire a local accountant, while the employees may go to local restaurants and other nearby stores. The success of one business can steamroll through the economy.”

Small businesses can also indulge in more niche markets and underserved customer bases. Business owners serve their community’s needs, which can bypass bias or discrimination. Not only do under-represented founders cater to diverse customers, but they also hire within their communities. Therefore, shopping at local businesses not only adds jobs in marginalized communities but also generates revenue and greater opportunities for minority groups.

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3. Shopping Local Creates Product Diversity

The shorter manufacturer-to-consumer journey of products means local products are cheaper than national big box stores or international chain stores. By shopping locally, consumers are generating greater product diversity. Local businesses bring in other fresh products that are unique and different.

Homegrown small businesses are often sustainable, affordable and support local producers. Not all small businesses source their products locally, but those who do ensure the livelihood of local producers. This concept is rooted in the farm-to-table movement, where small restaurants serve local produce cultivated from farms in the area.

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5 Key Ways To Support Small Businesses

Are you pondering, “What are some ways to support small businesses?” The easiest way to support local businesses is to make purchases. Yes, it is that easy! But that doesn’t mean you need to shop there every single day. Here are five ways to support small businesses and shop local:

1. Support Local Businesses by Shopping for Gifts

When you are shopping for gifts, browse local businesses or buy gift cards there for your friends and family. By buying gift cards as gifts, you have increased a local business’s brand awareness by introducing them to new customers.

2. How To Support a Small Business by Fuelling Your Creative Pursuits and Hobbies

Learning how to support a small business by supporting your passions comes with rewards for you and your community. Those gift cards don’t always have to be a gift for someone else. Set aside funds for your passion projects and hobbies by buying gift cards from your favorite shops.

Budget for your hobbies to stay on top of finances. Dedicating resources to specific businesses on pre-paid cards will encourage you to return there and support shopping small.

Visit shops supporting your niche hobby, and your patronage will promote the establishment’s success. Building customer loyalty is essential for small business workers; this is your chance to get involved. Plus, a little self-care boosts your mental health.

3. Dine at Small Business Restaurants

No matter the restaurant theme, frequenting coffee shops, sit-down establishments, and takeout locations is a simple action. When you support a small restaurant business, you support families and local “mom-and-pop” establishments.

Whether they serve family style or cater to fine-dining aficionados, local small business restaurants put customers first. Whichever popular type of restaurant they are, they might focus on sourcing organic ingredients locally. This supports the community and helps to keep prices down for customers. Don’t forget to tip generously to support the restaurant staff.

4. Support Small Businesses Through Local Pet Care

People love their pets. What better way to promote shopping locally than caring for your little (or not so little) best friend? No matter what pet you own, look into buying their food, toys, and care items from small business stores. By avoiding larger retailers, you’re supporting local vendors and possibly receiving more natural and healthy products for your pets.

5. Support Local Small Businesses by Shopping Sustainably

Shopping locally usually corresponds with more sustainable purchases. Some business owners build or make their goods. By buying from the makers, you cut out the middleman with a shorter manufacturer-to-customer journey.

Creating smaller batches and quantities of products means more ethical manufacturing and sourcing. These local businesses could be a member of a fair trade organization or a coalition for the ethical production of goods. Small business owners typically promote these sustainable practices, so you know what you support with your transactions.

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How To Support a Small Business for Free Using Word-of-mouth Advertising

Not all consumers can afford to spend extra money by frequenting local shops daily. So here is how to support a small business for free.

Remember that most small businesses have a limited budget for marketing and advertising — or none at all. Yes, creating social media pages is free. However, with the fierce online competition, they’d still need to spend money for a successful social media marketing strategy. To reach their target audience, they need to boost posts, create ad campaigns, or collaborate with an influencer.

Are you willing to show your support to a local coffee shop or artisanal soap maker? You can help via the time-tested method of word-of-mouth advertising with these three tips:

  • Engage with small businesses on social media. Simply liking and following their page and engaging with some of their content go a long way toward increasing audience reach. Take it further and ask your family and friends to do the same.
  • Mention small businesses in your social media. Recommend the business to your friends and family. If you have bought from a local grower, artist, cafe, etc., post a photo and mention or tag the business. Describe what you like about the establishment and its products and services.
  • Write a review. You can write a positive review on Google if the business is on Google Maps or use another review site like Yelp. Google reviews are essential because they boost local search rankings, discoverability, and the small business’s online reputation.

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How To Support a Small Business Without Buying Anything

Buying locally is just one of the many ways to help a small business. Even without a purchase, you can show your local entrepreneurs love and appreciation. Here is how to support a small business without buying anything.

Many independent or homegrown establishments are still reeling from their losses due to zero or severely reduced earnings that lasted for many months. They’ll appreciate your business as much as they would one of these thoughtful gestures:

  • Be kind and wish them well. If a small business has been a part of the local community for many years, the business owner would genuinely value having people check up on them. Whenever you see them at their local store or around town, ask how the business is holding up and about their employees. Words of kindness and encouragement may be all they need to keep pushing.
  • Offer to help. If you have special skills, such as in accounting or graphic arts, offer them for free or a minimal charge to struggling small businesses in your neighborhood. If they’re short on staff, volunteer some time to help unload deliveries, shelve inventory or even deliver a product. This is even easier if it’s along your route anyway. Letting local proprietors know they can ask for your help can make a huge difference and motivate them.
  • Recommend them to your company. Referrals are a great way to support a small business without actually spending out of your pocket. Recommend a local restaurant for your company or team’s lunch or event. Opt for an independent producer for your team giveaways.

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How To Support a Small Business with Campaign Initiatives

How do you support a small business as a business? Here are three more ideas for campaign initiatives so your business can stay on the local shopping bandwagon.

  • Connect and Discover. Check out platforms that host independently-run enterprises, such as Shopify, Lyst, Farfetch, and Sook. Nextdoor is a site dedicated to connecting communities. Looking for small booksellers? Check out Bookshop and Alibris.
  • Utilize Facebook Groups. Illinois-based real estate agent Ande Breunig started the Support Evanston Shops Facebook group. This “adopt a shop” private group encourages residents to select a store where they’ll shop small once a week. Then they’ll post about it on the platform. Through her initiative, 24 stores in Evanston, Ill, were adopted within five days.
  • Run a contest. If you have a company that runs contests regularly, consider creating a contest for local enterprises. For example, NPR’s WHYY ran a Small Business Challenge. They asked donors to give a shout-out to their favorite small business with their donation to WHYY today, and the business got a chance to win a sponsorship campaign on WHYY-FM.

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How Small Businesses Can Improve Their Customer Experience To Increase Sales

More often than not, running a small business is complex in good economic times. In times of financial crisis, locally or nationally, small businesses have the highest risk of going under in the blink of an eye.

If you’re a small business owner, having a contingency plan for such dire situations should be top of mind. Creating a business plan with a contingency plan must include rallying support from and building loyalty within your community from day one.

In bad and fair weather, getting support for a small business is easy when you build a brand that your customers can trust. Successful small companies have a customer-centric model. Prioritizing customer service and satisfaction requires an in-depth understanding of their needs.

Most customers want a seamless and pleasant free guest WiFi experience in whatever niche or industry you’re in. Make them feel appreciated and boost your reputation with WiFi that remembers and welcomes them each time they visit. Display targeted content to your guests or build a loyal following on your social media via a customized captive portal login. Harness relevant customer data to understand better the people who patronize your business with innovative marketing tools. Establish a perfect online reputation with customer reviews.

A fully customizable WiFi system, such as Beambox, accomplishes all this and more. We have an existing client base of over 3,000 venues, and our customizable WiFi marketing solutions have been used in impressive and rewarding ways to aid small businesses. Accelerate your business growth — start your Beambox free trial today!

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