How consumers can help small businesses

Small businesses continue to be the backbone of the North American business community. Supporting small businesses on First Nations territories is also beneficial as the money goes directly into that community’s economy.

In 2002, Statistics Canada said there were 1.22 million employer businesses in the country. Of these, 1.2 million were small businesses. The financial wellness company Fortunly says that small businesses account for nearly half of all private sector jobs in Canada.

Despite the prevalence of small businesses and the abundance of people willing to become entrepreneurs, 20 per cent of these firms fail within the first year, and only 55 per cent survive five years or more. The COVID-19 pandemic was particularly harsh on small businesses. However, many of them survived through digitization and plan to continue using it even after the pandemic is long gone.

Maintaining a small business through economic highs and lows and other issues often comes down to customer involvement. Consumers are the driving forces behind the success of small businesses.

Here are some effective ways for consumers to help small businesses grow.

Shop local: The “Shop Local” movement has been around for a while but remains as relevant as ever. Shopping local means becoming repeat patrons at independent businesses as opposed to the chain stores that dominate strip malls.

Share on social: Social media can be a great way to spread the word about businesses you like and point out particular examples of why you shop there. Utilizing social media platforms to highlight the positive attributes of a business can help that business grow.

Call direct for take-out orders: Third-party food delivery services may be convenient, but businesses have to share the profit from your purchase with the delivery service, cutting into their bottom lines. Pick up your order or rely on the restaurants’ own delivery teams.

Engage online: Complicated algorithms and other factors determine how a business’ website or social media page gets seen by the public. You can help things along by liking pages, visiting the website frequently and sharing any posts.

Speak about a business in person: When out and about, whether you’re dining with friends or chatting with a stranger, try to push and recommend businesses you support. If someone compliments your lawn, shoes or haircut, mention the businesses that did the work or sold you the products.

Suggest opportunities for exposure: If you know about a school or organization looking for vendors, make the suggestion to a small business you use frequently. They may get new customers from participating in the event.

Small businesses are driving forces in the economy. Consumers can do their part to keep them thriving and profitable.

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