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How You can Help Small Businesses

By Portage County Business Council

In only a few short weeks the pandemic has created a storm of economic uncertainty and financial hardship, with small businesses among those being hit the hardest. Those required to temporarily close are unsure how long they’ll be able to stay afloat without an income, while many essential businesses have been forced to lay off workers or find alternative ways to sell their goods.

It’s heartbreaking to see small businesses struggling for survival. Their owners overcame numerous obstacles and worked incredibly hard to get where they are today, only to potentially lose out because of circumstances far beyond their control. If businesses in our area begin to succumb to these unfortunate circumstances, it would not only hurt the local economy – we would lose crucial components of our community.

Fortunately, you can support your favorite local businesses in several ways. Completing even one thing on this list could make a huge difference for a small business either right now or in the coming months as establishments are allowed to reopen.

Ideas to Help
  • Purchase gift certificates – Revenues have slowed to a crawl for many small businesses, but you can help boost their sales right now by stocking up on gift cards or certificates. The best part is you can either use them now or treat yourself later, and they also make great gifts!
  • Get a head start on gift shopping by buying local – It’s never too early to start shopping for a loved one’s birthday or the holidays, and you can help a small business while doing it. Challenge yourself to find everyone on your list at least one gift from a small local business. You may discover a few hidden gems along the way!
  • Order from a local restaurant – Many restaurants have opted to stay open, but they can only offer carryout, curbside pickup, or delivery. Ordering food from a local restaurant not only helps that business, you also get to take the night off from making dinner!
Free Ideas to Help
  • Give them a shoutout on social media – Let your favorite local business know you’re still thinking of them during this difficult time by tagging them in a social media post and saying something positive. Share why you’re excited for their business to reopen, what you like about their establishment, or simply share some words of encouragement.
  • Help them with marketing – Advocate for your favorite businesses by following their social media profiles and interacting with their posts. Like, comment, and share their posts to show them you care. As a bonus, it could entice your followers to start supporting these businesses as well.
  • Leave a positive review – Take a couple minutes to leave a nice review on websites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, or TripAdvisor. Good reviews can have a huge impact on a small businesses, such as bolstering their online reputation and helping draw in new customers.
  • Show your appreciation – While this could be done on social media, sending a hand-written thank you card is more heartfelt and personal. Simply showing a business owner that you appreciate them and their livelihood may be the boost of positivity they really need right now.

Overall, we need to support small businesses – and one another – more than ever. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by an endless stream bad news, but there are also countless stories of kindness and positivity emerging each and every day. Mr. Rogers once said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

During this time of insecurity and adversity, try to not only look for the “helpers” –  challenge yourself to become one. Acts of kindness don’t have to cost money, and you also don’t need to go above and beyond. Simply do the best you can. Even the smallest act of compassion can have a huge impact on someone in need.

submitted by Melissa, Portage County Business Council Intern