More than a year after we surveyed small business owners about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on their businesses, many are still feeling the strain. Lockdowns to help manage the pandemic forced businesses to limit capacities, pivot services, or even temporarily shut down, hit this critical segment of our economy hard. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses accounted for almost half of U.S. economic activity and generated two-thirds of net new jobs in 2019 alone.
At Bluevine, we know the recovery of small businesses — and the owners and employees who work there — is critical to the country’s economic bounceback and the well-being of our communities. This Small Business Week (May 1-8), we’re encouraging consumers to shop small and get creative about how they support their local businesses. Here are a few of our favorite ways:
1. Purchase gift cards for yourself and others
Pay upfront for a few months of your go-to items at your local businesses that you normally frequent — restaurants, cafes, salons, bookstores, boutiques, or any of your other go-to’s — with a gift card. This is an easy way to signal your support to your local businesses and provide much-appreciated cash flow. Gift cards can easily be purchased online too.
If you’d like to encourage friends or family to visit your favorite local business, providing them with a gift card is a perfect way to do so. Even a $5 or $10 gift card can inspire someone to visit a store or their website, bringing new customers through their doors.
2. Promote your favorite businesses on social media
Sharing a positive experience on social media goes a long way in attracting new customers, especially as small businesses get back on their feet. To help your favorite shops and restaurants, follow them on social media, tag their account in your posts, and leave positive reviews. A wider social following will help them build reputability and popularity online.
If you’re dining at a restaurant with a charming outdoor set-up and an enjoyable menu that you want to post on your social media story anyway, make sure to tag the restaurant to help spread the word. The impact is huge: 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily, and 81% of users use the platform to help research products and services.
3. Keep shopping local
Local businesses are a foundational and beneficial part of our communities. When you spend $100 at a local business, $68 stays within your community compared to $43 if the same amount was spent at a large business. That money pays local employees’ salaries, funds schools and other public institutions, and supports other local vendors like accounting and marketing firms.
On a larger scale, local businesses power our economy; they generate as much as 70% more local economic activity per square foot than big retailers. Another bonus? Shopping at local businesses is greener than shopping at national retailers or chains, minimizing energy consumption and pollution caused by processing and transporting goods over long distances.
4. Opt for subscriptions, whenever possible
Many businesses pivoted to new offerings during the pandemic to boost revenue, with subscriptions being a popular option. These range from monthly candle boxes to weekly produce hauls delivered to your doorstep. If your favorite local business offers them, purchase a subscription or gift one to a friend. These provide business owners more predictability into monthly sales, not to mention they might offer you some credit for them when you pay upfront.
It’s undoubtedly been a challenging year for all of us, but especially small businesses. We’ve all witnessed the resiliency of these businesses throughout the year, but it’s more important than ever to continue supporting them in this period of recovery. We hope you’ll join us at Bluevine in doing everything we can to support the small businesses that make up our communities. Get started by downloading our infographic to let others know how they can celebrate Small Business Week.