If you really want to support small businesses, here’s what you can actually do
Everywhere you look today you’ll come across the phrase ‘support small businesses’ — in news articles, across influencers’ posts on social media and within brand campaigns too. Becoming ‘vocal for local’ has taken on new meaning thanks to the pandemic and the huge crisis in unemployment and falling consumer demand, both domestically and abroad.
But what does this really mean, and how can you truly support the people and companies that need it most right now?
How do we break past the risk of simply virtue signalling and letting this rally call from becoming just another social media trend? It begins with putting yourself in the shoes of those most impacted and thinking about what they really need right now. And in reality that goes much beyond using a sticker to give someone a shout out on Instagram (although that’s certainly valuable in it’s own right).
Independent professionals have lost their jobs and their project pipelines have dried up. Small businesses’ sales have dropped drastically and they can no longer cover their fixed costs. Agencies and studios have seen their client rosters shrink substantially. It’s no secret that the big guys who have the funds to tide over tough times are the ones who can absorb everyone else’s losses and turn them into their gains. So how can you help those who need it?
- Send someone a heartfelt testimonial — if you’ve loved their work or their products, send them a few lines they can use as promotional material.
- Refer unemployed people to companies you know are hiring, or send clients to agencies who are in need of new work.
- Give entrepreneurs and creatives constructive feedback if you’ve used their services, so they can make improvements to their processes.
- Do trial runs or sign up to beta test new products, so they can go from testing to launching.
- Be patient when working with a younger company, help them streamline their systems while they work out the kinks.
- Try spending more of your advertising budget on smaller independent players and platforms instead of Google and Facebook.
- And of course, instead of buying from large well known brands, scout for local alternatives and give them a shot.
On the flip side, as a small business owner, I realise that people might not even know how they can support you. I think that’s where transparency becomes really important. We’re accustomed to only sharing the highlights and glorious moments, but we don’t talk enough about the challenges (might be something to do with impostor syndrome). On that note, we just published an article listing out the challenges we’ve faced as a company — so that our community members can help us navigate them both now and in the future. Do take a look and let me know if any resonated with you, or if you have other ideas on how we can all support each other in meaningful ways.