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By Jessica Elliott Updated on October 13, 2021

How to Support a Small Business: Here Are 10 Effective Tips

Small companies make significant contributions to local communities. Your support helps them thrive. Learn how to support a small business as an individual and an entrepreneur using these 10 tips.

1. Support Small Businesses on Social Media

Engaging with brands on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are good ways to support small businesses. 

But what does engagement look like, and how does it help a local organization?

According to Sprout Social, most consumers follow brands to stay updated on company news and learn about new services and products. After clicking “follow,” 91% go to the company’s app or website, 90% make a purchase and 83% recommend the business to a friend or family member.

Social media interactions can increase sales, web traffic and brand awareness.

Support independent businesses on social media by:

  • Clicking “like” when you come across their advertisement or post
  • Commenting or responding to comments on a company’s social threads
  • Tagging a friend in a brand’s social media post
  • Leaving a review or adding a recommendation on Facebook
  • Following a company’s social profile
  • Participating in customer polls or surveys
  • Posting a photo with their product and tagging the business
  • Defending a company when you see a negative post in a community group
  • Sharing a story about a local business helping community members

Four smiling customers lift a small shop above their heads.

2. Find Small Businesses to Support Online

More prominent brands often pop up first in search engine results and spend more on advertising than smaller companies. 

Therefore, supporting a small business is a conscious choice and may take some extra effort. 

Fortunately, entrepreneurs Jacqueline Snyder and Minna Khounlo-Sithep, co-hosts of “The Product Boss” podcast, created a small business directory.

It’s for business owners with 50 or fewer employees, and they pay a yearly fee to be listed on the site. You can shop by product categories or learn about individual companies.

Also, check out Amazon shares “small business products related to items you viewed” on your home page. 

But you can find small businesses to support online. Instead of searching by department, scroll down to “Programs & Features.” 

From there, you can shop from small and medium businesses, women-owned companies, family-focused brands, artisans and innovators. 

Etsy is another great place to find unique gifts and buy from a small business. There are more than 150,000 listings under its small business category.

3. Encourage a Friend to Apply for a Job

While every small business is doing everything to find new employees, they could use a helping hand. 

It takes seconds to spread the word that your favorite store is hiring. Share a job post on social media, tag a friend on their post or add it to a community job board. 

Consider going a step further by sharing your experience with the company or tagging an employee or store owner on social media.

4. Buy From a Small Business

Make every dollar count by investing it into locally-owned stores and entrepreneurs. Search for small businesses using the Independent We Stand website or check out a guide from your local government or community pages.

Shop and support local small businesses by:

  • Visiting a farmer’s market where local entrepreneurs sell their wares
  • Signing up for a financial account at a community credit union
  • Ordering from restaurants directly, not a third-party delivery app
  • Using a mobile app to find potential small businesses while traveling
  • Participating in community events, such as craft shows and food truck festivals

5. Pay With Cash

As a business owner yourself, you know how fast those credit card fees add up. Imagine if 10 customers switched from credit to cash for their $100 monthly purchase.

Depending on the company’s payment processor, those 10 customers may save a local small business $350 or more yearly. 

When cash isn’t convenient, consider using your debit card over a credit card. In some cases, the rates are much lower. 

6. Partner With Other Small Businesses

Business partnerships can increase brand exposure and help companies do more with their marketing budget

Examples of small businesses supporting each other include: 

  • Partner with one or companies when hosting a giveaway or contest
  • Create a social media thread asking friends to call out their favorite small businesses
  • Select a small, local contractor for professional services
  • Buy gift cards from small businesses to hand out at your holiday party
  • Share another company’s post on LinkedIn 
  • Join together with another business for a shared coupon or punch card campaign

Entrepreneurs Jacqueline Snyder and Minna Khounlo-Sithep created the Shop 1 in 5 Pledge.
Source: Shop 1 in 5 Pledge

7. Take the 1 in 5 Pledge

Along with developing the small business directory, Snyder and Khounlo-Sithep created the Shop 1 in 5 Pledge.

You commit to buying 1 out of every 5 items from a small business by taking the pledge.

In addition, you can interact with like-minded entrepreneurs and find more small companies by following @Shop1in5 on Instagram.

8. Participate in Small Business Saturday Events

American Express created Small Business Saturday in 2010, and the Small Business Association (SBA) has co-sponsored the event since 2011.  

Ways to get involved include:

  • View the shop small map on the American Express website to explore local small businesses
  • Head to your Chamber of Commerce to learn about small business Saturday events in your area
  • Mention your favorite small business online using the #ShopSmall hashtag

9. Share Your Experiences

Consider sharing your thoughts with strangers, along with telling your friends and family after a good experience. 

If a company sends you a survey via email or text, take a couple of minutes to respond. Doing so helps a local business learn about their clients and improve everything from products to marketing campaigns. 

While a simple testimonial is better than nothing, informative reviews help other people make decisions. 

Share how an experience or product helped you solve a problem, including details to assist other people with similar circumstances. 

It isn’t only about stand-out experiences. Many consumers simply want to know if a product or service meets the product description and arrives unbroken.

Head to one or more of these popular review channels:

  • Google search engine or Google Maps
  • Tripadvisor, Yelp and Trustpilot
  • Food delivery apps, such as Uber Eats and Grubhub

10. Add Small Business Vendors to Your Supply Chain

When it comes to suppliers, it’s often more convenient to work with larger vendors offering potentially lower prices and a higher level of automation. 

But as we’ve seen over this past year, large or small, hiccups in the supply chain affect us all. 

Keeping parts of your supply chain close to home not only benefits your local community but helps your business with go-green objectives

Buy from small business vendors by asking yourself a few questions:

  • Could you commit to purchasing a locally grown ingredient for your restaurant’s dishes?
  • Would your retail shop customers appreciate unique creations from local artisans?
  • Is there a local small delivery service that could handle in-town orders? 

Why Support Small Business Owners

Buying from and partnering with small business owners is a win-win. It’s a way to invest in your community and promote entrepreneurship. 

Think about things you do daily — such as scrolling social media or buying a coffee — and use those moments to support an independent business.

Jessica is a business-to-business content strategist and consultant with 24 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. She writes about technology, marketing and finance.
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