Our country has recently experienced quite a shift. Small businesses are bleeding, hurting, and fighting with all their might to survive. I personally, started my small business shortly before our world got shut down. I was at crossroads to quit or pivot and keep trying to make it work. I chose to pivot as have many small businesses. We acknowledge that times are hard. People aren’t spending like they used to. People are losing everything. Small businesses hurt for you as well.
This list of 25 mostly free things are ways you can support all small businesses until we can all be back to the place we want to be. The majority of these are free. Even if you don’t spend a dime with a small business, these types of gestures are very much appreciated. I write this from a retail perspective, but the underlying concepts are applicable to any small business.
1. Like their Facebook page and join their Facebook group. Many businesses get their customers from Facebook. Zuckerberg and his FB geniuses have an algorithm that determines what gets shown and what doesn’t. My brain can’t even wrap itself around how it works. But what I do know is liking a small business page and joining their group helps them get seen.
2. Share and repost their posts. This helps get them in front of more people. All about that algorithm here too.
3. Follow them on Instagram (or other social media). I am personally very new to Instagram (if you follow us, you know). In order to help us grow on Insta, we need you to interact, share hashtags, share location tags, or tag us directly. Remember ol’ Zucks algorithm…yep, Insta has one too! So go ahead and hit the heart, tap through, answer the poll.
4. Share their pins on Pinterest. Pinterest is huge for small businesses. Find them. Create a board for their business, and every time they post something, share it to your board.
5. Sign up for their newsletter (and open them). You never know when will send a discount code or exclusive offer to you.
6. Share and visit their website. Clicks matter. Especially for bloggers whose income is based on those clicks.
7. Share their happenings and giveaways. Are they running a promotion? Giving away goodie basket? Running a fundraiser to support the local school? Help them get the word out to all the things they do besides the business side of it.
8. Tag a friend in their posts. See something a friend would get a kick out of? Something you want to hint to the hubs? Tag them in the post. It’s a little gesture that makes a small businesses heart so happy.
9. Comment on their posts regularly. Back to ol’ Zucks algorithm. This helps our posts get seen. It can be as simple as a ‘hi’. Give the business an opportunity to interact with you. We love it and it helps us get seen.
10. Comment an emoji or GIF. Same as #9, but way more fun!
11. ‘Love’ or ‘Wow’ their posts. Sure liking it is good and we appreciate it, but a love or a wow is super awesome! And it helps beat the algorithm.
12. Give them a shoutout on your social media. It can be for anything. An awesome product. Your experience in their store. Or a simple ‘hey check out my friends store’.
13. Post a pic of something you bought. If you are able to spend money at a small business, post a picture of what you bought and share a little about it. We love to see your beautiful faces in the pictures too!
14. Leave a positive review if you purchased something (or even if you didn’t but experienced great customer service). As we all know, reviews are important to buyers. If you had a negative experience, reach out to the small business to make it right before posting a negative review.
15. Refrain from negative comments. Yes we love comments on our posts, but refrain from negativity. If you had a poor experience, share with the business privately and give them a chance to make it right. And always, always, always refrain from hate speech.
16. Tell your virtual and real life friends. Sometimes we forget to share the good stuff we find with our real life friends. And a referral is the best compliment you can give a small business!
17. Accept invites to small business pages and groups (even if you don’t know the owner personally). If you find out it’s not something you want to see in your stream, you can always unfollow (although we hope you don’t).
18. Make a purchase when you can. You’ve seen those posts about every time you make a purchase a small business owner does a happy dance. Well, it’s true. Because no matter how small the purchase is, we feel like we have provided something of need and value to the customers we love.
19. Buy gifts or gift cards for later. Buy a little at a time for Christmas, birthdays, and other holidays. Buy a gift card to use later or give as a gift. Every penny you spend at a small business is a penny appreciated.
20. Give them feedback on things you wish they carried. Check with them for what you need before heading to Amazon or a big store. I have access to so many products that I could never have them all on my website or in my store. You would be surprised at what a small business can do for you. See a brand you think would be awesome in their store, tell them. We want to hear from you.
21. Shop other small businesses and do the same for them. We know we aren’t the be all end all of small businesses. We encourage you to shop other small businesses, even our ‘competitors’. (psssttt…most aren’t really our competitors…they’re our friends). And if you know of another small business we would dig, share it with us so we can buy from them! There’s room enough for all of us!
22. Respect their time and their hustle. A small business consumes the life of the owner. It really does. I’m sitting on the couch on a Sunday afternoon writing this watching Moana with the little and her friend. We put tons of time into our business, and we want to provide you the absolute best customer service we can. But, if we don’t answer a message about a product on a Saturday night, let that be okay. If we close our shop early on a Friday so we can watch our kids football game, let that be okay. If we don’t offer two day shipping, let that be okay. We will serve you, but we must have boundaries and balance too.
23. Cheer them on. Even if you don’t care for the products. Even if you think they are crazy. They are pursuing a dream, and it is a huge, scary decision for someone to start their own business. What you don’t see are the long hours, the frustrations, the moments when they think they are Showing your positive support helps them get through the tough times.
24. Send them a personal message. See #23. A kind note from you encouraging them to stick with it and you support their dream will go a long, long way.
25. Shop small before shopping large. I am just as guilty of not doing this as anyone. But, I do make a conscious effort to shop small. There has to be a balance. Small businesses know that in our world today, it is almost impossible to not shop large. We get it. We shop large too. But when you are shopping for that special gift, or a unique item—start small. And remember…not everything is on Amazon.
I hope these tips help you support small businesses to help keep them afloat during these hard times and our future. These little things will make a huge difference in a small business, and won’t go un-noticed or unappreciated.