It’s 2020 and everyone is stressed. The threat of COVID-19 has made it necessary to limit non-essential activity, and small businesses are getting hit the hardest, especially those driven by foot traffic and travel.
It is vital that we follow expert recommendations and maintain social distancing, but the consequences of this trying time will ripple far into the future. The choices we make now will determine what kind of landscape waits for us on the other side.
Why it is so important to support small business?
Small businesses employ more than half of the working class in the US, and those that work for a small business report higher overall happiness and job satisfaction. In addition to being this primary source of employment and income for many, they’re also a valuable asset to local economies, keeping money close to home and supporting neighborhoods and communities.
The products and services offered by small business are often one-of-a-kind and innovative, paired with the type of customer support that large companies can't scale.
These small businesses -- the Davids to the multi-national corporation's Goliath -- also provide an important source of competition in every industry. More competition among businesses means more creativity and innovation, and less price gouging.
What about the government aid for small businesses?
In April, Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Within 13 days, the first round of $349 billion had been snatched up, and not all of the businesses were small. Many large companies like J. Alexander’s Holdings, Hallador Energy, and the Fiesta Restaurant Group were awarded loans of $10 million dollars or more. What’s more, folks who are self-employed were only able to apply for the loan one week after the program opened.
Is this our future?
Well, I don’t want that (ok, maybe just the Trader Joe’s part). How can I help?
Obviously one of the most helpful things you can do is support businesses through purchasing. Do they have an online store? Do they offer gift cards? Consider snatching up those things now to help keep your favorite retailers afloat so that they will still exist later.
Specifically, check in on the businesses you know that do not primarily operate online. Many contracted services providers are getting creative, such as hair stylists selling color kits or virtual consultations.
Know someone with a birthday during quarantine?
We’ve all seen some creative ways folks have celebrated their big moments in the era of social distancing - from birthday car parades to fancy virtual parties. Here’s a perfect opportunity to honor both your friend and a worthy company by sending a gift card!
Be thoughtful with your online purchases.
No longer are the days of two-day shipping, so why not break free from the biggest business of them all? The mega-retailers are struggling to stay on top of orders and chances are that if you go directly to the source, the shipping time will be the same, if not quicker.
Are you using your quaran-time to plan that next trek? We wrote another piece on how to bring the outdoors inside during quarantine, and one of the ways to keep busy is to plan your next adventure. While doing so, look for opportunities to support trail towns and outdoor gear folks who are thru-hiker dependent.
Donate your refund.
Did you book a spot at a camping ground and had to cancel your plans due to COVID-19? Instead of asking for a refund, think about donating to the campsite so that they can continue to maintain the space during the lockdown, and are able to stay in business so that you can enjoy their services in the future.
How to support small business without spending a dime.
Leave a review!
Reviews are more important than you know, especially to small businesses. If you’ve ever thought about writing one before but didn’t have the time, well, now’s the time!
We’d love if you could leave a review on your favorite meals, or on facebook so that new customers can hear from you!
Invite your friends to follow them on social media!
Like, follow, share, comment, rate, tag, blorp, woof . . . wait, a couple of those weren’t real . . . but you get the point. Since smaller businesses tend to have smaller followings, each social media mention carries more weight. And all it takes is a click of your time!
Please follow along on instagram!
And please stop asking for free product in exchange for “exposure”
Maybe you have a following (or you think you have a following) on social media, or youtube, or wherever folks are hanging out nowadays. Or maybe you think you’re the first person to thru hike and that’s worthy of a “sponsorship”. Or maybe you just have no issue asking for freebies and handouts and no pandemic is going to stop you from asking.
But if you’re still reaching out to small businesses during this time asking for free product or samples in exchange for a “partnership” or “social media exposure” or just because you think you deserve it... please stop. As businesses all across the country struggle re-open, re-hire, or just stay afloat, it is profoundly tone deaf to ask them to donate their time, energy, and assets to you.
If you think your audience is a great fit for a small business, offer to promote them on commission or via an affiliate program, where every sale you help generate earns you money as well. Getting paid to help small businesses? Now THAT is a great partnership.
Lend a helping hand
A lot of us are in “survival mode” right now, and it may seem overwhelming to go the extra mile and help out others when we are concerned about our own well being, but (times like these) show us how much we truly depend on one another, and our prosperity is much more interconnected than we realize. When small, industrustrious, and ethical companies prosper, we all benefit.