May is typically a time to celebrate small businesses around the world. Small businesses are the centerpiece of our economy, representing nearly half the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) and 47.3% of the U.S. workforce.
Sadly, this sector has been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. Some estimates show that in the U.S. nearly 7.5 million small businesses are at risk of closing in the coming months.
Now more than ever we need to support the entrepreneurs who are most impacted by the current pandemic. Simple gestures could help keep your favorite restaurant, salon, bookstore, art supply storefront, accountant, advisors, and more stay afloat during these difficult times.
In this spirit, we’ve put together some suggestions for how you can show your favorite small business a little love both now and in the coming months as they try to get back on their feet.
- Buy a gift card for future services — haircut, manicure, massage, etc.
- Order takeout from your favorite local restaurants. Many restaurants are open for delivery or curbside pickup. Bonus points for ordering takeout and buying a gift card for a friend or neighbor who may not be able to do so.
- Order online — a number of retailers have been forced to move their storefronts online. Don’t hesitate to continue shopping with them even if delivery takes a bit longer than Amazon Prime.
- Write a review to help them attract more customers when they are back up and running. While you are doing that you can even make a donation thanks to Yelp’s partnership with GoFundMe.
- Take a credit instead of a refund. Lots of businesses are experiencing delays in getting their products or services to customers. If they can’t send you what you ordered, rather than ask for a refund, take the store credit. Allowing them to keep cash can really help.
- Donate to a community or local government organized funds designed to help small businesses. In our community, San Mateo Strong was set-up to support local businesses and non-profits with grants and resources. They even solicited the help of local celebrities like Jerry Rice and Joan Baez to help get the message out.
- Consider continuing to pay, even if the services are unavailable. Current health orders may not allow some businesses or entrepreneurs to continue to offer services — gym memberships, house cleaning services, dog walkers, hairdressers, etc. — leaving those businesses and individuals without any income. If you have the means, any payment would most likely be greatly appreciated.
- Use your own social media to spread some SMB love. Share social media posts from businesses you want to support. Put up offers and promotions on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts. A little word of mouth can go a long way in helping them to drive sales.
- Share insights if you, your colleagues, partners, or friends are experts in a field. Be willing to answer questions, share tips, or provide content free of charge. If you are really adventurous, you might consider gathering others to put on a virtual event for your community.
- Be the first to welcome them back. As states and communities begin to open and ease restrictions, make sure you show your support by being one of the first to welcome those small businesses back.
It really does take a village during these unprecedented times to keep businesses and communities afloat. All acts, big or small, can make a difference.
If you are a struggling small business or know of one who could benefit from social media, marketing, or design help during this crisis please have them email [email protected]. We will be selecting one business a month throughout the summer to support pro bono as they attempt to get back on their feet.
If you have other tips for supporting small businesses during this pandemic, please share them in the comments below.