Running a small business is hard. Running any business is hard, but when you don’t have a broad audience, plentiful resources, or years of marketing experience then finding commercial success feels next to impossible. So why are there still people who choose to abandon the possibility of an already structured 9 to 5 for the instability of starting their own business?
Well, there could be a variety of reasons, of course. The most common is to meet a need. Most businesses start when the go-getters of our communities notice something lacking in their day-to-day lives. This can be anything from a logistical inefficiency to a creative depression.
Starting your own business is also incredibly empowering. It allows you to do the work you love to do in your own format. And our younger generations are capitalizing on this “work-by-our-rules” lifestyle. I mean, I’m doing it too. As a blog owner, I write and produce my own content. Entrepreneurs are showing themselves in more ways than just your typical start-up. Which is why I think this post is more necessary now than ever.
I’ve always preached the classic mantra, “shop local,” but after some evaluation, I realized that I didn’t exactly follow my own advice as often as I thought I did. Let’s face it, for the majority of the public, big markets are simply more convenient and usually less expensive.
Despite this, those hippy-dippy preachings of the good local commerce can do for our lives aren’t entirely off-base. Small businesses stimulate local economy, meaning more of your money stays in your community. They’re also more likely to keep their business local—supporting community projects, hiring your neighbors, and even shopping local themselves. When more small businesses exist in a city, there’s also more diversity, which means more options for you as a consumer. And this might just be my bias, but I think local shops are also more invested in the products and services they’re selling to you so they’re more likely to shell out that “service with a smile” we’re all so fond of.
There’s no denying there are benefits to keeping it local. But buying a handmade quilt from every single shop in your hometown isn’t exactly the best personal financial choice. And to be frank, it might make you look like a stamp-tramp (AKA, someone who gives their stamp of approval to just about anything). But I may have a couple of tips and tricks that’ll help your support all of your favorite local businesses and artists without breaking the bank or your back.
Purchase the Product
Obviously the best way to support your favorite local businesses is by purchasing their products or services. A lot of the money start-up companies make in those early months—and sometimes years—goes right back into the company. And while many of us would love to be able to dedicate all the hours of our day satisfying our audience, the sad truth is that we can’t eat your compliments.
Your purchases don’t have to be monumental to be meaningful. Buying one piece of wall art from a local painter is enough to show the artist that their work is being seen—and it could help buy some more art supplies to keep the business running. That being said, try your hardest not to wait around for discounts or ask for sponsorships. Small businesses need your money to keep themselves afloat and these owners have enough on their plates without having yet another internal debate regarding exposure vs. success.
Share the Stuff
Financial support aside, there are still plenty of ways to shower struggling entrepreneurs and creators with love that don’t require spending any money. A big one is sharing their stuff. That could be in a conversation with your co-workers or on your social media page.
This is an easy one for friends and family to do too. And while it may feel redundant to you, if you know someone who is struggling to see success in a new business, keep sharing. Not only can you vouch for their product based off of your relationship with the person, but it shows them that they can count on the people closest to them to help them reach a broader audience.
Reviews and Ratings
A lot of new businesses do get stuck in the friends-and-family cycle, however. And a great way to try and combat this rut is to leave a review of the product or a rating of the service. This is how other people who maybe don’t know you or the creator in question can determine whether or not the product or service is worth their time.
Be honest with your reviews without seeming too friendly or too biased. Don’t flaunt your connection to the business owner because it’s all about the product.
Likes & Comments
Quite possibly the easiest way to show your support is to leave a like and/or comment on social media statuses or say, blog posts. It’s hard to continue making content when it feels like no one uses your app or wants to buy your watercolored bookmarks. Sometimes recognition is just the push someone needs to continue following their dreams.
Post Pictures & Send Invitations
If you like a product, share it. Wear that hand-stitched cardigan to class to your best friend’s birthday party, wear it to dinner with your parents. Post about how warm it kept you on your New Year’s trip to Aspen and how you found someone wearing the same one the last time you were in Dallas. Spread the word.
You can also do this with local concerts or art shows. Make a date night out of it or invite your little sister. If you can help share the excitement, other people will want to join in on all the rage.
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As a rising entrepreneur myself, I really tried to highlight all of the ways in which business owners and creators really benefit from the support our consumers and supporters give us—monetary and otherwise. I hope this post inspires you to go out and shop local. Drop the names some of your favorite local businesses down in the comments section down below—I’d love to see how I can support others too!
Trying to make it as a full-time creator has been a long and arduous journey for me. And it’s really your kind words, reads, follows, and shares that help me to keep moving forward. So please please please consider subscribing to the blog or making a small pledge to my Patreon page if you haven’t already. I couldn’t do all that I do without you. If you want the most up-to-date news on all of my work, make sure to follow me on Facebook and Instagram too! Thanks so much for reading, and I’ll see you guys next week!