12 Ways to Support Small Businesses This Holiday Season

Emily Kate Pope

Emily Pope is a writer and editor at Fundera. She specializes in all things small business marketing and financing.

The upcoming holidays are always a major boost for businesses—last year, holiday spending exceeded $1 trillion, up 8% from the year prior, and is always a healthy percentage of consumer spending for the whole year.

As the holiday season begins to ramp up, have you thought about where you’ll be spending your money? While e-commerce is becoming more and more of a driving force for economic growth—due to convenience of shipping and e-commerce advertising efforts—it’s worthwhile to consider how you can support small businesses during this all-important revenue period.

Small businesses are still the heart of the American economy. According to the Small Business Administration, small businesses make up: 99.7% of U.S. employer firms, and since the latest recession, they accounted for 67% of the net new jobs created. Supporting small businesses means supporting jobs in your community. Simple as that.

Beyond job creation, investing in locally owned small businesses keeps money in your community to support other important initiatives through local sales tax earned: from education, to the police and fire departments, to parks, and other publically funded programs.

And, of course, shopping at local small businesses creates a unique experience you can’t have online. Small businesses tend to provide a more personal customer experience and offer special things you wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Though it can feel much easier to just type in a website on your browser or fill up a shopping cart on an e-commerce app, supporting small businesses can be a rewarding and worthwhile experience. If you’re wondering how you can support small business owners during the holidays—either as a consumer or fellow small business owner—we have a great list just for you.

1. Shop at small businesses.

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. What better way to genuinely support small businesses than patronizing them? You can do this whenever, wherever. Not just around the holidays.

2. Participate in “Small Business Saturday.”

What’s that again? Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held on the Saturday after U.S. Thanksgiving—November 25th in 2017. Similar to Black Friday, it’s an optional, designated day for small businesses to entice more customers by offering deals and discounts or something special.

Whether you’re a consumer or small business owner yourself, promoting Small Business Saturday inherently promotes small businesses by helping them generate even more revenue during the busy holiday season. It reminds people that while they may get great deals at department stores or big-name brands on Black Friday, there are still opportunities to spend locally and get a great deal.

3. Skip Black Friday.

Unless it’s to support a small business. One way to support small businesses is to not spend your money at non-small businesses like department stores or major national or international brand stores. Those places are likely to be total zoos on Black Friday anyway—so save yourself the hassle and waltz into a small business another time.

4. Create a guide to local small businesses.

This can be published online or as a handout. Share a list of the awesome small businesses in your area and what makes them so awesome. The guide can also act as a coupon for small businesses if you work with them to provide incentive for customers who find their store through the guide.

5. Open an information station for local small businesses.

If there are some centrally located small businesses around you, it’s a good idea to set up an information center to welcome tourists or locals and help them get the scoop on all the small businesses in your area. You can offer guides to local small businesses, coupons, and more. Set it up somewhere anyone passing through would see and on high traffic days like Saturdays and Sundays, Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday. This will encourage shoppers to shop at small businesses by providing them with immediate incentives they wouldn’t otherwise know about.

6. Partner with another small business.

If you’re a fellow business owner, find a way to cross promote your business with another small business to generate revenue for the both of you. You can do this by providing discounts for small business patronage. Say you own a bakery and want to partner with the toy store down the street while you know they’ll have increased foot traffic for the season—offer discount bread orders for people who come to your bakery with a receipt from the toy store, and vice versa. Advertise this feature in both your store fronts and voila—increased foot traffic and interest in your two businesses. And hopefully, of course, more revenue.

7. Host an event for small business owners.

Nothing says the holidays quite like a communal gathering. Get a group of small business owners together to foster a sense of local community. This will be a great way to encourage partnerships and other ideas that can help benefit the local small business community overall. Encouraging small businesses to support each other or work together is a great way to support the health of your local small business community.

8. Organize a community event.

Small Business Saturday doesn’t have to be the only revenue-generating event of the season. Think of ways you can generate more buzz about small businesses through events and get customers through those shop doors. Small businesses can sponsor the event to advertise special offers for the holidays.

9. Last minute shopping rally.

In the days immediately leading up to Christmas, e-commerce shopping shows a sharp decline. This is a great opportunity for local small businesses to attract consumers to their brick-and-mortar stores. While online shopping can feel convenient, customers can avoid concerns about last-minute shipping by shopping locally. Advertising this insight and providing incentives for last minutes shoppers is a great way to encourage more customers to shop at small businesses.

10. Encourage family members to shop at small businesses for holiday gifts.

Challenge your family to only buy gifts at small business this season. This is a great way to get more creative with your gift giving and ensure you get your loved ones something truly unique.

11. Share small business content on social media.

Enjoying the new Christmas cookie from your local bakery? Share it on Instagram. Shopping for gifts at a local boutique? Check in on Facebook. Sharing online when you patronize a small business is free advertising for that business and a great way to encourage others to patronize them as well.

12. Leave positive reviews of small businesses online.

You can help small businesses by taking the time to leave positive reviews on sites like Yelp and Foursquare and Google. This will increase their visibility in search results when consumers go to find specific stores in their area and will foster a sense of trust in small businesses.

There are so many ways to support small businesses—with your money, your business, community organizing efforts, or thoughtful consumer habits. Supporting a community of small businesses supports the community at large. Hopefully you can help make it an even bigger statement this holiday season and feel even better about the wonderful time you spend with friends and family by knowing you’ve done your part for your community by supporting small businesses.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Emily Kate Pope

Emily Pope is a writer and editor at Fundera. She specializes in all things small business marketing and financing.

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