Small businesses across the country have been drastically impacted by COVID-19. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll, 70% of small businesses are concerned about long-term financial hardship while 58% worry about having to permanently close. With small businesses teetering on the edge of failure, other entrepreneurs are stepping in. Local business owners can help each other out and build each other up during this pandemic.
While some companies might technically be your competitors, it’s important to focus on collaboration over competition: we’re all in this together. Here are a few ways you can support local and protect small businesses as an entrepreneur.
Buy from local vendors
Entrepreneurs can go above and beyond to support localism, or the idea that you should prioritize businesses within your neighborhood or region. Evaluate your vendors and consider where you get your materials and services. Do your restaurant ingredients support local farmers or a national supplier? Is your cleaning service locally-owned or part of a chain?
Not only will supporting local help the economy, but it will also help the environment. You won’t have to ship raw materials from across the globe, reducing the overall carbon footprint of your business.
Partner with local companies
As an entrepreneur, you likely work with other companies and brands to form partnerships and refer customers. In some cases, your business might complement that of another (like a wedding photographer recommending a caterer) or you may recommend another local company if you can’t take on the work yourself.
Scott J. Corwin, Attorney and President of Scott J. Corwin, does this in his local law practice. He explains:
“I work with several other law firms. If we are unable to obtain an excellent result to settle a client’s case, I partner with other attorneys who have dedicated their practice to litigation and trial.”
Keep a list of local companies you respect and promote and refer them where you can. You can even give shoutouts on social media to drive your customers to their business. For example, start a Follow Friday series on your Instagram where you choose a theme and then promote one or more local businesses, like hairstylists or restaurants.
Pay your employees well
If you can’t support local vendors or form partnerships in the ways already shared, you are still in full control of your employee salaries—and supporting them is helping them support local as well. By paying your employees generously (I.E. above minimum wage) you also empower them to support their local communities. They will have extra income to invest in neighborhood businesses once they cover their basic living expenses like rent, utilities, and groceries.
Why is supporting local businesses so important for entrepreneurs?
Investing in local businesses means investing in your community. Small businesses help neighborhoods thrive and create jobs that benefit many families. When you choose to patronize a small business, you keep your money in the community, which in turn gives residents income to support your organization.
Consider where you spend your money this year and which vendors you choose. By making a few adjustments, you could significantly benefit the local community and build key business relationships in the process.