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Most of us are seeing the effects of the coronavirus take place right in front of our eyes. We are living history today with a crisis that will be talked about for years to come, and perhaps no one is feeling it more than small businesses.
As people seek to avoid crowds and government mandates are put in place, many small businesses are scrambling to survive. According to JP Morgan Chase & Co., small businesses are the anchor of the U.S. economy and employ nearly half of the U.S.’ employees.
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So, as entrepreneurs, what are some ways we can support our fellow small businesses, both in the neighborhood and online during this trying time?
Here are 10 ideas to consider:
- Purchase meals from locally-owned restaurants either by drive-thru or delivery. Some are even offering frozen options now, so you can purchase extras for later or share with your elderly neighbors. The big chains will survive this pandemic, but the smaller independent restaurants might not. Check out the Facebook or Instagram pages of your favorite spots to see if they’re still open for delivery, and what they’ve got on offer.
- Leave 5-star reviews for your favorite small businesses on Google, SiteJabber, Yelp, BBB, Facebook or anywhere else their customers hang out. Reviews are a deciding factor for many people when they’re choosing where to go, and it can increase their exposure on these sites. Most people only leave a review if they have a bad experience – let’s change that!
- Shop online at small independently-owned stores. Just because we’re stuck inside doesn’t mean we can’t go shopping. Load up that virtual cart with new things to keep yourself entertained during this time, or for the future!
- Like and share small business’ social media posts so others can support them. People often underestimate the power of social media, but a follow and a share really do go a long way. Being inside likely means increased screen time, so you might as well leave some nice comments and tag your friends! Some small businesses even offer special points cards for referrals, so it’s a win-win.
- Plan future travel. Contact your local travel agent for rates and ideas. Many travel suppliers are offering incredible rates with “cancel for any reason” insurance policies. Think about making your future travel plans now in order to take advantage of these great rates — plus the peace of mind that comes with your insurance coverage.
- Tip generously for any services you are able to utilize and sincerely thank these individuals for their service. You may not be able to leave a $9,400 tip for the entire restaurant like this couple did, but give what you can. Service workers survive off tips and are facing lay-offs with no promise of when they’ll be back to work. Being generous always feels good, so do it!
- Purchase gift cards or class passes for future use. Your favorite hairdresser, nail salon, clothing shop, cafe or bakery all likely provide gift cards. You can even purchase gift cards for services you wouldn’t normally think of being affected, like caterers, make-up artists and photographers. With all major events being canceled, these people are also among the most vulnerable. Class passes for those fitness studios you love going to (spin, barre, yoga, Pilates) are also a great idea, as you can save them for the future or give them to friends.
- Decline your refund for canceled events put on by your local community. Allow them to recoup some of their costs with your generous donation.
- Buy branded merchandise and online content from small businesses or influencers you love. Many have online stores stocked with their own products. Some also use a popular platform called Patreon, in which you can support for as little as a couple of dollars a month and often receive free valuable content in return.
- Contact a locally-owned restaurant and order food to be delivered to a local ER or hospital. Our healthcare workers are overwhelmed, and small mom-and-pop restaurants and caterers are struggling. Do two acts of kindness in one!
Speaking of acts of kindness, this property management company is not mandating its restaurant tenants to pay rent in April so that they can pay their employees and take care of their families. If you know of a business where you can extend extra support in this time of need, consider it — it may just go a long way to helping small businesses survive.