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10 Things You Can do Today to Support Local Small Businesses

Posted in Small Business and tagged ,

Remember the restaurant your family went to every Saturday night? How about the pork sandwich from the deli down the street you looked forward to eating every day during lunch hour? Remember the small coffee shop that had the most amazing pastries? The bookstore? Your dry cleaner? Your dentist? Your veterinarian? The list of the small businesses who were there for you every day before COVID-19 are endless. And, as the COVID-19 crisis continues to keep millions of Americans quarantined inside, the small businesses you love are suffering, too.

Small business owners are risk takers. They are a confident breed who choose to create their own destiny rather than be a chapter in someone else’s story. And, for small business owners, giving up on their dreams is never easy.  When times are tough and defeat is knocking at the door, there’s usually a good alternative. But, with this new reality, small business owners are facing an incredible and painful situation where they may not see continuing to be in business as an option. Millions of small businesses are facing this situation – and worse, it’s not something they can control.

Small businesses are a big deal

At Specialty Answering Service, we love small businesses. They are the backbone of what we do. Answering calls for small businesses is what keeps us in business – and small businesses keep the US economy in business. Just how true is that? Very. Consider these facts:

  • There are over 30 million small businesses in the US
  • Small businesses as a whole employ around 58 million employees
  • Small businesses account for over 60% of new job creation

Small businesses are not just essential to the people who own and manage them, but they’re essential to our community and our economy’s growth as a whole.

10 ways you can help small businesses today so they’ll be there for you tomorrow

Small businesses are key to our way of life in the US, and they need our support now more than ever. We’ve listed 10 ways you can help them out below.

#1. Choose small business over big business and shop local

While leisurely shopping may be off of your to-do list during a pandemic, you still need your essentials. Instead of shopping at your big name stores like Costco or BJs, see if you can get toilet paper and other essential items at your local corner store instead. And don’t assume just because a store is closed, they aren’t doing business. In the current climate, storefronts are closed because of mandatory shut downs, but the businesses are still open. And, if they aren’t physically open at their location, they may be working remotely.

If you do find yourself wanting to online shop for non-essential products, try not to open up your Amazon app. “But it’s so easy – they have everything and I can check out with just one swipe.” We know, but a conglomerate business who has the means to donate millions of dollars during a pandemic isn’t struggling to pay the bills. However, your neighbor who recently started her own business making and selling candles very well could be. If you’re able, support those who need it most.

#2. Amazon supports small businesses too

If you’re hooked on Amazon, you can make smarter, small business shopping choices. While Amazon as a whole is a multi-billion dollar venture, about half of all units sold on Amazon are from small and medium-sized businesses. Just last year, Amazon released 50 new tools and services to help provide small businesses with more opportunities for growth, like offering brand analytics and eliminating storage fees.

So, how do you find small businesses on Amazon? Through the Amazon Storefronts feature which is a way to highlight and showcase small and medium sized businesses. Each week they showcase different products and provide information so you can learn more about who you’re buying from!

#3. Order takeout from your favorite restaurant

Restaurants, cafes, bars and all types of food-serving establishments may be closed to the public, but are still offering takeout/delivery options for their customers.

If you’re trying to retain a sense of normalcy when everything feels chaotic, keep your Saturday night tradition going and order take out from your usual spot. The restaurant will be grateful for your business and your kids will be grateful for a night off from dad’s cooking. Throw in UberEats and DoorDash and you’re supporting your local Uber drivers as well.

#4. Buy a gift card you can use later

For businesses that aren’t able to offer virtual classes or take out options like beauty salons or massage therapists, it is proving to be an incredibly difficult time. However, you can still help out by buying gift cards or certificates to use at a later date. Buy some for yourself and for others to use as gifts for birthdays, holidays or just because!

If you aren’t able to go into the store to purchase the gift card, see if you can buy one from their website or if they’re offering vouchers over the phone.

#5. Help them stay relevant on social media

If funds are tight for you right now, don’t worry! You can still help small businesses without spending a dime simply by keeping them relevant on social media.

Many social channels like Instagram or Facebook operate via an algorithm based on the number of “likes” or “shares” a post gets. So, the more attention a post gets, the probability that more people will see it is much higher. More people seeing a post means more opportunities for that business to succeed. If you love your local small business, tweet about them, write about them on your wall and tag them to spread the love. If you’re not in a position to spend money, helping spread the word about how much you love your local business is just as good.

#6. Look for alternatives instead of canceling

When crisis hits, many people look to cut costs wherever they can. However, this can have a serious impact on small businesses that rely on the income to stay operational. Depending on what type of business(es) you’re working with, there are other ways to cut costs instead of cancelling. Here are a few:

  • Decreasing your service plan: If you use a business that charges a monthly fee, see if you can temporarily downgrade your plan to a lower option instead of canceling altogether. Having an active account will be beneficial to your own business as they can still handle calls on your behalf, but you’ll be saving money as well.
  • Rescheduling appointments: For small businesses that rely on appointments, see if you can reschedule your appointment to a time when things are less crazy. That way they can still keep your business, and you can wait to dish out the money.
  • Take credits instead of refunds: If you do happen to cancel a service or subscription, see if they can just credit your account instead of issuing a refund back to your credit card or bank account. In the event you do want to pick service back up when everything settles, you can use the credit to your advantage. Think of it as a future gift to yourself!

#7. Check if other services are available

During this time, small businesses are trying to come up with new ways that they can still offer services without having to actually open their doors, and many are using video technology like Zoom or Google Hangouts to interact with customers. Here are some different ways professionals are working to stay in business, and how you can help.

  • Fitness: Gyms and fitness centers have been offering virtual training classes online both in group sessions and one-on-one classes.
  • Education: Educators of all types have been teaching classes through Zoom meetings and have been able to work with parents to ensure students are adjusting well to the changes.
  • Health & Wellness: Doctors and medical professionals have been practicing telemedicine, meeting with patients via phone call or video conferences.

#8. Refer a friend

If you aren’t in the position financially to help out your favorite small business during this time, you can still help out by referring your friends, neighbors, or anyone else you may come across (at an appropriate distance of course). Customer referrals are important for a small business because not only does it help get their name out there, but it also helps solidify new customers.

For example, if I was looking for a new product to use on my hair and my best friend referred a brand to me, I would trust her judgement and use that company. People are more willing to listen to their friends’ suggestions rather than blindly trusting an advertisement they see.

#9. Leave a positive review

If you’ve already referred your friends and family to your favorite small business, try also leaving a positive review online. Like many people, if I don’t personally know anyone with a first hand experience with a specific business, my next step is to read online reviews.

While they may not always be an accurate representation of the business or product you’re interested in, they do provide a helpful insight into other customer experiences, and every new positive review may just lead to new business opportunities.

#10. Donate to an organization

When crisis and tragedy hit, people come together in remarkable ways to try and help each other out. There are many organizations across the United States that have been created to help grow and protect small businesses over the years, like the Women’s Business Development Center or the Minority Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Donating to one of these organizations is a great way to help not only your local small businesses, but small businesses everywhere. Here are a few more industry-specific organizations, as well as their respective relief outlets and resources.

  • National Restaurant Association: The Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was created to help restaurant employees during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • National Retail Federation: The NRF represents retailers across the US and offers many resources to help aid retailers, including the CARES Act.
  • Farm Foundation: The Farm Foundation helps farmers in the agricultural industry. During a pandemic as impactful as COVID-19, it’s important that we work towards creating and maintaining more advanced agricultural practices that will help sustain our country’s food supply.
  • United States Telecom Association: USTelecom is an organization that helps businesses in the broadband and telecommunications industry and are working to keep businesses and people alike connected during these times.

Specialty Answering Service help small businesses answer their telephone calls, improve their customer service, and keep their customers happy so they can grow. Learn more about our answering service for small business solutions.

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