Do you want to make a positive impact on your community? Start by supporting local businesses whenever you can. Doing so allows you to contribute directly to the success of local entrepreneurs and their employees, and it keeps your sales tax dollars at home in your local community. Before you order online or shop with a national chain, consider if there's an easy way to get what you need, while also supporting a small local business.
When shopping for a gift for a local friend, relative, or co-worker, consider giving them a gift card to one of your favorite locally-owned establishments. This way, the recipient can visit the vendor in person to choose an item or service. Not only will they get a gift they really want, they just might spend more money while they're in the store. Who knows? Maybe your gift will lead to yet another loyal customer for the local business.
Praise in Public
When you have a positive experience with a local business, take the time to leave a review about it on Yelp, Facebook, or Google, and on the company's social media pages. The story of your positive experience might influence prospective customers to check out the company. Your upbeat words can also help counterbalance negative comments left by disgruntled customers or internet trolls.
Provide a Testimonial
Praise for local businesses doesn't have to be limited to online communication. If a local company goes above and beyond to meet your needs, acknowledge their efforts by writing a thank you letter to the business owner or manager. They can use your letter to recognize and praise their employees, and also hang it on a bulletin board near the entrance for customers to see.
Explore Off-Menu Options
If you're a regular customer looking to direct more business to a local favorite, explore options with the owner. For example, maybe your family loves the frosting that a local bakery uses. Ask the owner if you might be able to purchase a quantity of that frosting to pair with your at-home holiday baking, even if it's not something they usually sell on its own. You may find entrepreneurs to be more than amenable to such requests.
Promote to Neighbors
When you find a local business that you love, spread the word to your neighbors. Consider sharing a few tidbits about your positive experience via Nextdoor or on the Facebook page for your neighborhood association. Chances are that other people who live near you will be thrilled to discover a great local vendor.
Build Business Connections
If you have a favorite local restaurant that's located near the place where you work, pick up some extra takeout menus the next time you go in, and share them with your co-workers. Place some on tables in the employee break room or other communal locations to help spread the word. Give a menu to the staff member who is in charge of ordering food for company meetings, being sure to let them know how good the food is.
Suggest Local Favorites on Social Media
Do a post on your Facebook page giving a shout-out to your favorite local establishments. Encourage your connections who live in the same community to reply by commenting with links to the websites or social media profiles of their favorite local businesses. You can all inspire each other to check out local favorites, then report back on the results.
Pin to Pinterest
If you're active on Pinterest, set up a "local favorites" board that you can use to pin information about your favorite local vendors. You can pin links to their website home pages or product/service offerings, photos of you and your friends at their establishments, and other information about what they have to offer. This will help remind you why you love to shop locally, while also enabling your connections and other Pinterest users to discover great local places to shop. You may even want to add some of these impactful small business quotes to your pins.
Check Out the Chamber
Supporting your favorite local businesses is a great thing to do, but it's also a good idea to expand your local shopping. If you're wondering how to find more small businesses, you'll be glad to learn that it can be as simple as checking the website of your local Chamber of Commerce. Review their member directory, then go back every few months to peruse the listings for new members. If the Chamber offers an email newsletter, sign up and watch it for announcements of grand openings or ribbon cuttings that you can attend.
Every Connection Makes a Difference
These may seem like small steps to take, but everything you do to support local small businesses contributes positively to their success. What seems like a small gesture on your part could help a local business attract new customers who come back time and time again. Your support might help turn an entrepreneur's dream into an entrepreneurial success story.