3 Totally Free Ways to Support a Small Business

“Small businesses provide the feeling that a real person is behind it all, someone who cares more about giving us a quality product or service, over just taking our hard earned dollars.”

– Annie Bukhman (designer + founder, Gift Shop Brooklyn)

Well, the holiday season has officially arrived. The hustle and bustle of holiday shopping are in full swing! This is the time of year that many small business owners look forward to. After all, it’s the busiest shopping season of the whole year!

As you may have seen in my last post, I am a huge advocate for shopping from small businesses over the holiday season. Whether you realize it or not, there are small businesses in your community (maybe even within your friend circle!) who would love your business.

But hey, I get it. Small businesses, especially handmade businesses, are often more expensive than buying gifts from big chain stores. Though the cost is usually completely worth it, it can make it tough to support small businesses and still buy for everyone on your list.

If you want to support a friend’s small business but are strapped for cash (as most of us are this time of year), keep reading to learn simple ways you can support a friend’s small business without spending a single dime!

Ask Questions

You know that your friend has a business that they’re passionate and excited about… but do you know exactly what it is that they do? Have you asked recently how business is going? Is there something small that you could do that would make a big impact on their business?

Small business owners love to talk about their work. Especially for handmade artists, it is our passion! I genuinely love to tell others about my business- the good, the bad, and the ugly.

And, as the adage goes, the more you know, the more you know. If you know that someone is having a tough time with their business, you can step in and offer encouragement (either with your words or by doing something from this list). If their business is booming, you can celebrate with them! And if there is something small you can do, such as simply sharing their social media posts once a week, you’ll know for sure exactly what you can do to help out.

Spread the Word

One of my college friends, who I had a few education classes with, recently left the world of elementary education to become a doula. I thought it sounded really cool, but I wasn’t sure exactly what a doula was or did (other than what I knew from Gilmore Girls, of course).

Image result for gilmore girls doula

When I announced that I was pregnant, she and I got together and she was able to explain exactly what services she provides and how she helps moms… and guess what, we ended up hiring her!

Now, I tell all of my pregnant friends about her and the value she has already offered us (phone support, a must-have registry list, optional birthing classes, birth plan planning, completely free online training classes)… and she didn’t even have to ask me to spread the word! If I know the value of what someone offers, why would I not tell others about it?

If I know the value of what someone offers, why would I not tell others about it?

You can check out her website here- The Columbus Doula and her Instagram here- @thecolumbusdoula.

Interact With their Social Media

Social media is HUGE for small business owners, particularly handmade artists. I can describe my products ’til I’m blue in the face, but seeing a styled picture of a pretty shirt is what really makes someone say, “Oh, I have to have that!”

Social media is weird, though. With algorithms (and other things I admittedly don’t understand), not even all of the people who follow me on Instagram see all of my posts. However, the more interactions my posts get, the more they are pushed out to broader audiences (even without the use of hashtags). So, when someone likes or comments on one of my pictures, that helps that particular post go just a little further.

In fact, some of my most-liked social media posts are ones that deliver BIG NEWS (like our pregnancy announcement post), even without the use of hashtags! Because people were excited for us and liking and commenting on that particular post, it got pushed out into a wider audience, which allowed even more people to see and interact with it.

So, hopefully you see the impact that a simple double tap or comment can make for a small business.

I always try to share my friends’ small business posts, as well! I have a whole Instagram highlight about small businesses that I love: some belong to friends, but others are just businesses whose products or offerings I admire enough to share with the world (even if I’ve never purchased from them). I share these things not because I’m a huge influencer, but because I know how impactful it can be for just one person to share my own stuff.

*BONUS* Leave a Review

This one is listed as a bonus because, in most cases, it does require having bought something in the past and I don’t want to encourage anyone to be dishonest!

But, if you have bought something from a small business or used their service in the past and have yet to leave a review, it’s such a simple thing that only takes a few minutes but can leave a huge impact! Reviews are the social proof that we all look for (whether we realize it or not)- if many, many people have purchased a product or service from a small business and rave about it, aren’t you more likely to want the same results and make that purchase?

*BONUS BONUS* If it is a product-based business, snap a picture of the product (or you using the product) and add it to the review! This will give the small business owner some new content to share around- think Facebook and Instagram posts.

If you haven’t bought a product or service from someone in the past, you can still help out! Just head to their Facebook business page and leave a review there. No need to be dishonest and say you have used or purchased from them in the past; instead, you can mention that you know that their products are high-quality or that you know that their service is a great value for the money (even if you don’t need or use it). This adds more social proof that can really help someone’s business grow.

So, there you have it! Hopefully now you feel equipped and empowered to help your small business owner friends grow their businesses without spending a single dime. Of course, if you do need their product or service, the very best thing you can do is to purchase from them!

Remember- Amazon and Walmart (and even my beloved Target) don’t particularly care or appreciate if you buy from them; small business owners do care and very much appreciate your business!