If you want to help your favorite small businesses during these hard times, but wonder how you can do it, we’ve made a list for you!
With everything that’s happening right now in the world and while the novel coronavirus keeps spreading, everything is changing. From children attending online classes to adults going working from home, restaurants shutting down, and airlines grounding flights, COVID-19 has affected every single aspect of modern society.
As more people are instructed to stay home and self-quarantine in order to stop the spreading of the virus, this affects small business owners in particular. Small businesses are constantly working to keep up with the ever-changing demands and restrictions. As the saying goes, it takes a village, and thankfully there are multiple ways in which you can help your favorite small businesses.
Here are 15 free and inexpensive ways to the gift of giving that can go a long way!
Offer moral support
These days, with all that’s happening with COVID-19 where there’s so much uncertainty, words of comfort spoken now can make a huge difference.
“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,” says Laurie Monteforte, president, and CEO, Strong Mountain Media, Inc.
“That moral support is going to offer some hope to business owners who are struggling during this time.”
Pay for a service…and then don’t use it
For some, it may seem ironic paying for a service and then not use it, but it could really help the small businesses in which you believe so much.
“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,” explains Romy Taormina, CEO/Founder, Psi Health Solutions, Inc., the maker of Psi Bands.
“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, don’t forget to leave positive reviews on their websites, because it helps them very much in attracting new clients.
“I own a small photography business in Rhode Island. Photographing mostly weddings, we’ve been hit hard by the Covid-19 outbreak,” says Kathryn Wallace Yeaton, a wedding photographer with Brave Hearts Photography.
“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.”
Connect with your community through a new hobby
Every small business is affected and feeling the pressure of COVID-19. However, this knitwear brand is coming to the rescue of all the people who are in quarantine/ self-quarantine right now, teaching them a new hobby during these hard times of 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,” explains Megan (Schaefer) Teggart, director of communications for knitwear brand Sh*t That I Knit.
“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
These are the times when social distancing doesn’t allow you to get a hair cut, but it surely allows you to buy products from your favorite salons.
“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,” tells Elina Fedotova, owner of Elina Organics Spas in Chicago and Kalamazoo.
“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.”
Work on a donation match program
Small businesses can come to the rescue of 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,” explains Jay Edelson, founder, and CEO of plaintiff’s law firm Edelson PC.
“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 came 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.”
“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.”
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,” explains business expert Monica Eaton-Cardone, COO ofChargebacks911, a financial technology company that helps businesses and entrepreneurs avoid fraud.
“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!”
Set up a GoFundMe account
Do you want to help but you can’t think of any other way, 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,” explains Blake Stockton, small business analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com.
“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.”
Additionally, 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.
Stay connected to your favorite local bakery
“This is obviously an incredibly difficult time for our industry and for the world. I encourage everyone to stay connected in any way that they can,” says Greg Rales, baker and owner at Red Gate Bakery.
“For us, we want to know what you’re baking at home. We’re always, always happy to share recipes with folks (and know our industry friends and family are too!). Reach out to your favorite restaurants via DM and ask for our recipes. Tag us in your baking (or cooking) projects! With kids home from school, too, we imagine people are looking for a project–get them involved and let us know how you’re doing. We’re here for you!”
Donate to your local food bank
It’s important to donate to your local food bank if you want to help out communities indirectly.
“We are honored to provide 5,000 meals for our neighbors with Tarrant Area Food Bank,” explains Carly Burson, the founder of sustainable women’s fashion brand, Tribe Alive.
“In a season of financial insecurity for many and with children out of school, families are relying on these organizations more than ever. Donating to your local food bank has an immediate impact.”
Message your favorite small business
Everyone loves receiving positive messages, especially small businesses who value the opinion of their clients.
“Send businesses an email or message about something they’re doing well, which will serve as a good reminder during this crisis,” says Rubeena Ianigro, Founder, The Gray Muse, a six-figure enamel pin shop.
Share business cards
“Many small businesses still produce business cards, but often they’ll sit in their shop completely untouched. Something that anyone can do which can really help a small business is to actually take these business cards, and share them with others who you think might actually enjoy the product or service,” explains Sam Williamson, owner of CBDiablo in the United Kingdom.
“It’s good to verbally recommend a business to someone, but there is something about handing someone a business card which means that they’ll much more likely remember the business, and that sort of referral is so valuable to small business owners. We include a business card in all of our packaging, and we’re delighted whenever we hear that someone has passed the card on to a friend or family member.”
Tell others about your favorite small business
“Supporting your favorite small businesses does not necessarily require you to buy something from them, you could merely refer others to their store. You can significantly assist small businesses by sharing the word about them with people you know whenever possible, whether through phone, email, social media or in-person conversations,” explains Hassan Alnassir, founder and owner of the toy company Premium Joy.
“By mentioning your favorite small businesses (and their products that you love) to your friends and family members, you help out those companies in building their brand awareness and earning more customers which is a huge support for them.”
Call your local shelter
“Many shelters that rely on volunteers have had to cancel volunteer services in efforts to flatten the curve,” says Burson.
“Reach out to your local shelter to hear the needs and find out how you can step in. We are partnering with our local shelter to provide sack lunches to those in need.”