7 FREE Ways to Support a Small Business

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small mom and pop shop open sign on business

Whether it’s a family member, close friend, colleague, or neighbor, most people know at least one small business owner. Maybe their business has been around for generations, or maybe they just started it as a side-hustle this year. No matter, every local business can always use some extra support!

Support comes in many forms, but not all of them mean you need to spend your hard-earned money. Your time is a finite, yet abundant resource, and some would even say more valuable than money. You can spare a few minutes each week for various things, why not use a few minutes of your week to support some local businesses?

1. Follow them on Social Media

The most basic on our list, and should be pretty obvious. Follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, whatever they have. If you’re really that annoyed by it, almost every platform allows you to control if you see their posts of not by adjusting your settings.

How does this help them if I’m not their target audience?

By helping build their total page/profile likes/follows, you help their page build social-proof to users not familiar with their brand. This helps them seem more reputable. It also provides a miniscule endorsement to mutual friends/colleagues that you somehow know this is a real company and not some shady hacker or scam.

2. Like/Comment/Share their Social Media Posts

We get it, there’s just some things you won’t want to share to your own social media. Maybe even some things you don’t feel comfortable commenting on. However, a like is the minimum amount of effort you can provide to support something when it comes across your social media feed. Unless it’s about killing puppies, you can probably like the post without it costing you anything but a millisecond of your time.

Maybe it was really funny, helpful, touching, or thought provoking. Comment how it made you feel. “Thanks for sharing” is the easiest way to respond to let them know they didn’t waste their time and they should keep sharing their stuff on social media!

If you constantly posted selfies on social media and none of your 500 friends liked a single one of them, would you keep posting or would you assume no one cares? The same goes for a small business account, there’s real people behind them.

3. Mention them in Normal Conversations

Have a friend who just opened a new ice cream shop? Why wouldn’t you mention the new place when someone says they want to go out for ice cream? It costs you nothing and the worst that could happen is they respond with “never heard of it.” Guess what? Now they HAVE heard of it. You did it, you helped that small ice cream shop.

4. Encourage Them

Don’t lie, but if you think they’re doing a good job, tell them. If you like something they did or one of their new products, mention it. If you’re proud of them, share that pride.

You’d be amazed how uplifting and needed words of encouragement are to people. I can’t tell you how drained I can get sometimes, but the words of encouragement from friends, family, colleagues, and others really helps me keep going on my worst days.

5. Share New Ideas with Them

Hear of something that might help them? Interest them? Concern them? Excite them? If it might have anything to do with them, mention it briefly. You’d be amazed how helpful it can be if they weren’t aware of something pertaining to their business.

For example, a few months ago I found out about a new Google feature for restaurants. It allows them to take automated reservations over their existing phone line. Customers tell Google what time and how many people they want a reservation for and Google calls for them to see if the restaurant can reserve that for them. Restaurants can enable the feature through their Google Business Listing.

It costs the restaurant and me $0 to mention it, so I passed it along to a few of my friends that run restaurants that accept reservations. It’s a cool new idea, but not for everyone, so I just shared it quickly as something they might want to look into. End of conversation.

6. Include them When You Can

Participating in a non-profit event? Many small businesses have a budget for gift cards for non-profit events; this is a great opportunity for them to get their name in front of new potential customers and even get a tax write-off. If you’re involved with an event that will have a raffle, door prizes, or a silent auction, let them know and maybe they’re donate to it.

Taking a picture for your SnapChat or Instagram story? If you’re nearby or at their location, why not include their sign/building in the background. Using their product? Consuming their food? Share it with your social media friends and let them know where and what foods you’re eating.

7. Leave them a Positive Online Review

Perhaps the most impactful, valuable thing someone can do for a small business, especially if they’re new or don’t already have a steady history of good reviews.

7½. Leave them a Great Online Review

Leaving an online review is an art form. Some people just rate 5 stars. Some include a short message like “great food!” But what separates a good review from a great one is specificity.

Instead of just mentioning the food was great, mention what entrée you had that was great, or maybe the sides really made the meal. Have you worked with a company and had a good result? Tell readers how their service helped you. Maybe “their platinum massage package really helped me unwind from a busy week at work.”

How being specific helps them even more.

Several online review sites use algorithms that can be affected by the words used in these reviews. For example, leaving a comment about a specific product or service in a Google review can even improve a company’s SEO (search engine optimization), which is extremely valuable to most small businesses.

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