6 Free Ways to Encourage Small Businesses

Shopping small isn’t the only way to show your support and help create opportunities for your favorite local stores.

Small and locally owned businesses are all about community. In your favorite boutique, corner restaurant, and trusted mom-and-pop shop, business owners get to know their customers as friends and buyers learn to count on thoughtful recommendations.

Small businesses add to a community’s identity, employing local residents and adding vibrancy and interest to a neighborhood. They add so much more than another option of where to shop and, because of this, you likely feel personally invested in their success. In good times and in bad times, you can do your part to show you care about your local business community.

Your voice and investment in small businesses can make a difference, both as part of your everyday life and when your community is experiencing financial hardships. Thanks to the power of social media and connecting online, you don’t have to leave home or  spend money to show your support.

Here are six free ways to support small businesses. 

Write a Review. Give a thumbs up, five-star review, or detailed write-up about your favorite biz, so that the business owners know how you feel—and so others know what’s so great about the place!

Whether adding to a Google My Business profile or a Facebook or Yelp page, or checking in on Swarm, taking the time to stand up for your favorite businesses helps spread your positive feelings. Take the time to call out great service, clean accommodations, timely responses, and high-quality products. Your review could encourage someone else to give the business a shot.

Refer a Friend. Thanks to digital platforms, we can recommend almost anything to almost anyone. Don’t forget those closest to you! If you have a hot spot you love to support, talk about it—and not only online but in person. Tell your coworkers where you ordered dinner from over the weekend. Share the link to your favorite boutique with a friend. Building connections through personal recommendations and introductions can go a long way!

Share Love on Social Media. Are you always taking photos of your food? Instead of simply bragging about that great meal, recognize the people who made it by tagging their Instagram handle or adding your location. Even if you haven’t been out to eat in a while but are simply dreaming about that savory carbonara or smooth cappuccino, post a throwback and add a #tbt!

You can also share the digital love by repining content on Pinterest, reposting on Facebook, liking tweets, and subscribing to email newsletters. If you’re a fan of a small business in real life, make it part of your digital life too.

Say Thank You. Giving a shoutout on social media can certainly make a statement. When you go public with your reviews, you encourage your friends and followers to support that business as well. But if you like to be a bit more private, that’s OK. Even small businesses have inboxes, and a thoughtful email or direct message saying how much you love what they do can be a heartfelt way to encourage them to keep at it.

Reschedule Your Appointment. Sometimes we cannot physically be there for our favorite places. If you find you have to make a return, miss a lunch, or cancel a haircut, make a point to come back another time. Instead of cancelling, reschedule. Let them know you are sorry to miss them this time, but when circumstances are different, you’ll be among the first back through their doors.

Offer Your Expertise. Is there something you do really well? If you’re a marketer, you might not make the best marinara, but you are an expert at communications. If you’re an accountant, you might not be a pro at fixing the bathroom sink, but you do know your way around a spreadsheet.

If there’s a specialty you could offer your favorite small business owner as a favor to get them through tough times, lend a hand. Small business owners are often wearing many hats and simply having another set of hands on a project could be a big help. Don’t forget how much you have to give others simply by being yourself.


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