As consumers, we buy things on a regular basis, like our midday latte, a pair of Keds, or a thrifted dining room table. Gone are the days, however, when we drift to big box stores and chain stores for all of our purchases. Instead, many of us have cycled back around to the idea of supporting small businesses.
And for good reason: the goods are often of better quality, and if it’s a service we’re investing in, we often receive a more personalized experience. Also, because there are so many small businesses nowadays (thanks to the internet and being able to purchase things from businesses both near and far!), it’s usually much easier to find exactly what you need or want. Benefits all around!
That said, these businesses don’t run themselves. They’re often run by the proverbial one-man band and lack the funding and backing that larger companies possess.
If you want to help make sure your favorite Etsy store or Tarot card reader stays in business, there are a few things you can do to support small business owners:
1. Follow them on social media.
Don’t do this if you’re not legitimately interested in what they have to say and offer, but consider following your favorite small businesses on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. It may feel like you’re just a number: however, not only will it give the business owner a small thrill (“Yay! Someone likes what I do!”) and give you a head’s up on any new wares they’re working on, it can also help them in more concrete ways, as well.
The more likes someone has on their Facebook page, for example, the more analytics and data they have access to, which can help them fine-tune what they’re posting to make sure it’s exactly what their followers are looking for.
It’s also helpful if you engage and share their posts or products. If you really love something, why not share it with your friends?
2. Don’t dicker about the price.
It can be tempting to shop around until you find the cheapest possible option, but keep in mind that (a) you get what you pay for, (b) labour and material costs are usually more than you think, and (c) you’re buying from a small business because they have exactly what you want, and that isn’t usually accompanied by mass market prices.
Small business owners take pride in what they create and offer, and most of them aren’t trying to overcharge you. By all means, if you’re unfamiliar with the shop, do your research. If they have oodles of rave reviews, though, and they have what you’re looking for, give it a try! You’ll likely be much more satisfied with your purchase than you would be had you gone for a cheaper version elsewhere.
3. Take the time to give feedback.
Speaking of reviews, have you ever noticed that we’re more likely to speak up when we’re unhappy with a product or service than when we loved it? Next time you purchase something from a small business owner and it fills you with joy, spend a few minutes writing up a review on or ask them if they’d like a testimonial from you.
Positive feedback from past clients and customers can make a big difference to a small business in the future. After all, are you more likely to buy something that the owner raves about, or that has glowing, authentic reviews from customers and clients?
If you’re not comfortable writing something publicly, consider contacting the business owner through direct message or email and letting them know the impact their product or service had on your life. It will absolutely make their day.
4. Be patient.
Like I said earlier, small businesses are often run by a solo entrepreneur, or a small team at most. When it comes to customer service, you may not get a response as quickly as you’re used to from larger companies with entire departments devoted to that sort of thing.
Remember, the business owner is wearing just about every hat you can imagine. They do care about you, it just might take them a day or two to get back to you. You may also have to be patient if they’re a service provider with a waitlist, or a shop owner who can only stock so many goods at once because they quite literally don’t have the time or energy to do any more. This is especially true if their business isn’t their full-time job.
While those are four of the biggest ways you can support small business owners, you can always keep an eye out for smaller ways, too. Even tagging them on Twitter or Instagram if you’re chatting about one of their offerings could steer business their way, or at the very least make them smile!
At the end of the day, remember that, behind the business front, there’s a hardworking, passionate person who wants to make your life better. Get to know them a little. Comment on their posts. Buy something when you can. Cultivate a symbiotic relationship, and you’ll have played a large part in that incredible small business’ survival! I’d say that’s a job well done for any twenty-something.
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