How to Support Small Businesses From Home

Woman and man getting food in a cardboard box

Ways to Support Small Business From Your Home

Small businesses are the cornerstone of local economies. In supporting small businesses, you are playing a part in creating local jobs and putting money back into a community. Whether you’re ordering items online from afar or in your own town, you are still helping people put food on their table and a roof over their heads. 

What’s more, small businesses generally offer unique shopping experiences and quality products. These products are also often made with a passion or are the product of a specialized trade. Buying from small businesses can be thought of as an act of respect and appreciation.

Below are a few ways to support small businesses from your home:  

Buy Takeout From Local Restaurants

Like many industries, restaurants have taken a serious hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Restaurant Association, over 100,000 bars and restaurants in the U.S. permanently closed in the wake of the pandemic. With restrictions on indoor dining, many restaurants made the switch to contactless delivery in an effort to avoid permanent closure. 

Although physically going to a restaurant is a significant part of the restaurant experience, ordering takeout can be just as exciting. Takeout allows families and friends to enjoy their favorite foods from the comfort of home, their local park, or wherever else they like to eat. Plus — pandemic or not, buying takeout from local restaurants is an excellent way to support small businesses.  

Remember to call ahead and see if a local restaurant is open, operating under limited hours, or offering a limited menu. Some restaurants also have a website with online order features. Though you can also use delivery apps such as Seamless or Grubhub, calling in and picking up yourself means all of your money goes directly to the restaurant. 

Avoid the large chains and opt for local instead. 

Look for Alternatives to Online Superstores

Local restaurants do not have to be the only small businesses you support. There are various independently-owned online shops to use over superstores such as Amazon or Walmart. What’s more, the items you can order from small online stores range significantly, offering everything from essentials to luxuries. 

If you need to buy essential items, such as toilet paper or lightbulbs, look for small or local shops with online ordering. Other items you may need could include calendars, notebooks, or even a caddy organizer to keep up with a new baby. Buying from small or local businesses not only supports them, but also helps you get organized and complete to-do lists.

Buy Gifts, Gift Cards, or Prepay For Services

Gifts or gift cards are other great options for supporting small businesses from home, especially if you don’t need to purchase anything specific at this exact moment. You could buy gift cards to use on yourself in the future or to give as birthday or holiday gifts. Alternatively, you could buy gift sets for a baby shower, wedding, or other specific occasions that may be coming down the road. A lot of small businesses need cash flow, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic; buying gifts ahead of time allows you to make an immediate impact on a company. 

In the same line of thought, you can prepay for specific goods or services. Some options include prepaid subscription boxes or prepaid services for your car or electronic devices. 

Engage on Social Media, Leave Positive Reviews

Engaging on social media and leaving positive reviews are two more ways to support small businesses from home. For small business owners, online reviews can be a make-or-break feature they cannot directly control — they depend on customers to spread the buzz, improve visibility to searchers, and help keep traffic coming in. 

Social shares and positive reviews are especially useful when money is tight or your favorite business is temporarily closed. Helping boost the digital profile of small businesses by adding your voice to their social presence and through online review platforms can keep them from disappearing in the crowded online space, and help keep them stay relevant if they had to shutter their storefront temporarily. If you can’t currently shop somewhere, encourage others to do so instead.

Have Patience When Expecting an Order

Whether you’re waiting for them to fulfill an order or respond to a question, remember to have patience when buying from a small business. There are many factors that can disrupt supply chains, shift workflows, or otherwise cause dysfunction at a company. Small businesses can be especially vulnerable to these disruptions, considering the fact that they often run on a tight budget. 

If you’re expecting an order in the mail, remember that the U.S. Postal Service can be quite vulnerable too. According to a 2020 press release, "it is estimated that the COVID-19 pandemic will substantially increase the Postal Service's net operating loss over the next eighteen months, threatening the Postal Service's ability to operate.” 

With that in mind, it’s always important to consider the various factors that go into ordering an item online — from budget constraints to mail or other delivery services. The same could go for when you’re ordering takeout from a restaurant. With imperfect knowledge about what goes into a given order, be considerate of the employees working to get you what you’ve purchased.

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