18 Things You Can Still Do to Support Your Favorite Small Businesses
If you’re wondering what you can do to help your favorite small businesses stay afloat during these trying times, we’ve made a list.
How to help
While the novel coronavirus spreads around the world, everything is changing. From children attending classes to adults going to work, restaurants shutting down, and airlines grounding flights, COVID-19 has impacted every single aspect of modern society. As more people are instructed to stay home and self-quarantine, this hurts small business owners who are working to keep up with ever-changing demands and restrictions. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and thankfully there are multiple ways that you can help, that are free and inexpensive to the gift of giving that can go a long way. For perspective, here’s how much the novel coronavirus is costing the world (so far).
Offer moral support
In the time of the novel coronavirus where there’s so much uncertainty, words of comfort spoken now can go far. “Even if you’re limiting spending, you can support your local shops by engaging with and sharing their social media posts or signing up for their email newsletters,” Laurie Monteforte, president and CEO, Strong Mountain Media, Inc. tells Reader’s Digest. “That moral support is going to offer some hope to business owners who are struggling during this time.” If you need more of a boost, here are 17 uplifting quotes that will stay with you.
Pay for a service…and then don’t use it
It might seem ironic to pay for a service and then not use it, but it could really help small businesses. “From one small business owner to another, I am highly mindful of where I spend my money and do my best to support small businesses whenever possible,” Romy Taormina, CEO/Founder, Psi Health Solutions, Inc., the maker of Psi Bands, tells Reader’s Digest. “Pay for services even if you are unable to use them, if you have the resources to do so. Examples: You have a cleaning service come to your home. Pay them anyway to NOT come. You may see your hairstylist on a regular basis. Pay him/her anyway and do not go.”
Leave positive reviews on websites
If you’ve ever had a good experience with a small business, now is the time to write about those positive moments. “I own a small photography business in Rhode Island. Photographing mostly weddings, we’ve been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak,” Kathryn Wallace Yeaton, a wedding photographer with Brave Hearts Photography, tells Reader’s Digest. “I’ve suggested that one way to help small businesses that doesn’t cost any money and just takes a few minutes of time is to leave a positive review on your favorite small businesses Google business page. Not only will that help the business attract customers in the future but it’s also a morale boost for the business to see nice things being said about them.” Need a laugh to cheer you up right about now? Try out these funny product reviews that will leave you cry-laughing.
Connect with your community through a new hobby
Every small business is feeling the pressure of COVID-19. However, this knitwear brand is finding a way to connect with their community by teaching them a new hobby during this period of quarantine and isolation. “We created The Quarantine Kit…and have already sold over 1,000 kits to people who want to learn a new hobby! The kit provides the tools to learn how to knit: chunky yarn, needles, a pattern, and a way to connect with our team through virtual “how-to” tutorials,” Megan (Schaefer) Teggart, director of communications for knitwear brand Sh*t That I Knit, tells Reader’s Digest. “The therapeutic, meditative benefits that knitting provides has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety – definitely something we all need right now! During this crazy news cycle, we hope this news is a bit uplifting – albeit silly but definitely true to our brand.”
Buy beauty products from your favorite spas and salons
You might not be able to practice social distancing when getting a hair cut, but you certainly can do so when buying products. “I think we should encourage our customers to support their local beauty practitioners, salons, and spas by purchasing products from them. Products can still be mailed or left for customers outside of the building. Every beauty establishment usually has product lines that they sell,” Elina Fedotova, owner of Elina Organics Spas in Chicago and Kalamazoo, tells Reader’s Digest. “At ElinaOrganics, we manufacture our own products from scratch that we distribute to many spas and medical offices. We also retail online to customers. The majority of beauty salons do not manufacture their own products but are retailing other lines. It helps to continue selling products for the clients and for the business owners.” Here are 38 secrets your hairstylist won’t tell you.
Work on a donation match program
Helping small businesses isn’t reserved for individuals. Small businesses can help out other small businesses, too. “Our firm has long realized that the community has enabled us to thrive and, given that, we have a duty to give back. To that end, we are supporting local businesses in a number of ways, including by buying large amounts of gift certificates so they can have some extra cash flow during these times,” Jay Edelson, founder and CEO of plaintiff’s law firm Edelson PC, tells Reader’s Digest. “But our goal is always to have as large an impact as possible, so we are working with other business leaders who will be matching our efforts. And we are letting them know that we will look for ways to support what they are doing to help the community.”
Create websites that support local businesses
As a co-founder and creative director of Familiar Creatures, an advertising agency based in Richmond, Virginia, Justin Bajan worked with his team to come up with a creative solution to help local businesses in his area. They used their experience as strategic and creative makers and launched a campaign called Keep Calm and Nom Nom Once the website was built, they “started aggregating hyperlinked logos from all of the restaurants in Richmond, encouraging everyone to buy gift cards to these great places and use them when things settle down,” Bajan says. “Over the course of this week, we’ve received lots of emails from thankful owners as well as ones asking to be listed on our site. We’re supporting the campaign with paid social and other organic social outreach.”
But creating a website isn’t all Bajan is doing. “We’re also looking to partner with a custom graphic T-shirt company who can make shirts for each participating restaurant and give the proceeds back to them directly,” he said. “We want to see our city withstand this crisis. It’s the least we can do.” Just be sure you aren’t falling for these common gift card scams.
Talk to your small business directly for a refund instead of through a third-party
“One of the biggest, most critically important ways you can support your favorite local business is also the most overlooked: If the pandemic has altered your future plans, then please contact the business directly to request a refund, instead of first filing a complaint with your bank or credit card company,” business expert Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO ofChargebacks911, a financial technology company that helps businesses and entrepreneurs avoid fraud, tells Reader’s Digest.<
“Most businesses are extremely happy to offer you a refund–and not just because it’s the right thing to do during these chaotic, uncertain times, but because it actually saves them money: Businesses can lose $3 or more for every dollar lost to chargebacks, when you factor in the loss-of-product, punitive fees, penalties and more,” Eaton-Cardone says. “So do the right thing, and ask your local business directly for a refund–instead of first turning elsewhere. They’ll be very grateful you did!” For reference, this is how you can get a refund on just about anything.
Set up a GoFundMe account
Mykola Sosiukin/Getty Images
Can’t think of any other way to help a small business other than monetarily? A crowdfunding campaign might be the way to go. “I’m recommending small business owners set up crowdfunding campaigns on GoFundMe. When setting up a campaign for your business, don’t simply ask for money. Set up ‘rewards’ on the crowdfunding platform to essentially pre-sell products and services,” Blake Stockton, small business analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com, tells Reader’s Digest. “Rewards are similar to gift cards, except more specific. Additionally, add a video to the platform and speak directly to your customers asking for their support. After we get through the Coronavirus crisis, your customers will feel even more loyal to your business for helping in a time of need.”
Make sure you choose your fundraising platform wisely. “Remember, GoFundMe is preferable to Kickstarter because if your campaign doesn’t reach its goal, you can still keep the funds donated,” says Stockton. “With Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your campaign goal, all the money gets returned to supporters.