Small local businesses have had a rough few years. Those that made it through pandemic lockdowns with ingenuity and new ways to get their goods and services out to homebound people have experienced ongoing challenges. Supply chain issues and price increases in raw materials have knocked many small businesses back, requiring them to choose between raising prices, laying off staff, or closing altogether.
Local businesses are at the core of many communities, sponsoring youth sports, supporting summer festivals, and serving as resources when weather disasters strike. To preserve your community’s unique character and help those who have helped you, learn ways to support local businesses through tough times.
Respond When They Ask for Reviews
Local businesses go to great lengths to earn your favorable opinion. When you’re happy with their products or services, say so! Posting an online review only takes a few minutes, and your positive experience can help local businesses survive tough times by encouraging others to patronize their shops.
Be a Source of Social Proof
Reviews aren’t the only way to boost your local business online. Join local Facebook groups where neighbors make recommendations to each other about local businesses and services, and post a reference for your favorite local business. “Social proof” is the concept that people tend to follow the crowd, so if someone they know or someone local recommends a business, they are more likely to buy from that business as well.
Make Gift Cards Your Go-To
Gift cards provide local businesses with much-needed cash now, even though the cards may not be redeemed for many months. The next time you’re looking for a birthday, graduation, anniversary, or congratulatory gift, consider giving a gift card from a local business.
Support Local Workers and Performers
When a business suffers, so do its workers. Tip a little more generously. Follow local artists online, and attend online performances by local bands and solo artists. Review visual artists’ websites and purchase paintings, sculptures, or ceramic arts from local makers.
Volunteer To Help With Marketing
Some small businesses work so hard simply to produce products or provide services that they have little time left for the essentials of marketing that can keep their business going. Offer to help by encouraging local schools to post an announcement on their outdoor signs. Help distribute flyers announcing a sale, or use your technical skills to help a local business organize its email list and analyze data from its inventory management or POS system.
Helping local businesses survive through tough times is a way to help your entire community get through economic downturns, natural disasters, and other hardships. When things are looking up, your local business community and your neighbors will be grateful for your efforts.