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How you can help small businesses during COVID-19

March 24, 2020
5 min read
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How you can help small businesses during COVID-19
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We have a favorite wing restaurant that we are patrons of once a week. Seeing the owner struggle to stay afloat over the last few weeks has had a big impact on me. In less than a week, the owner was putting out calls on social media to support the business as she was already having to lay off staff who had been with her for years. (shoutout to H&J Wings & Things in Newnan, Georgia). These staff members and small business owners work incredibly hard in their fields because they are passionate about what they do and brave enough to risk their livelihood on themselves.

Last week we published a guide listing resources coming online for small business owners to receive help (and we're updating it daily). Today we want to focus on what consumers can do to support small businesses in the coming weeks and months.

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How you can support small business

Buy gift cards — Buying gift cards gives a small business a cash infusion now to make it through hard times. It is essentially a no-interest loan from you, which becomes even better when 40% (by some estimates) of people forget about the gift cards they have.

(If your small business cannot offer gift cards online, go to Kabbage and sign up to sell e-gift cards for free thanks to a new COVID-19 relief program the company just started.)

Shop early — If you're in a financial position to do so, go ahead and complete shopping now that you would typically wait to do for a few months. Support the business early for beach season, back to school shopping, birthdays -- heck, even Christmas.

Market for the business — We each have our own in-person and virtual communities of influence and now is the time to utilize them. My neighborhood's Facebook page has become a beacon of support for people calling out their favorite small businesses in town to support, many of which I was unaware existed. Tell your friends, colleagues, family and neighbors who to support and be vocal about it.

Spread creativity — You need to do this tactfully to a small business owner, but some of the creative ways I've seen small businesses evolve in the last week are fantastic. A local pizza restaurant is selling kids pizza kits with dough, sauce, cheese and a topping that they'll bring to your car so your kiddos can have a bit of fun at home. Our local painting studio for kids is selling take-home art kits you can pick up at the curb. Help brainstorm how small businesses can make their products mobile or virtual.

Support #ThankYouSmallBusiness — TPG has recently partnered with Silver Lining and their incredibly impactful Thank You Small Business movement. The organization reaches thousands of small businesses monthly via newsletters, in-person Champions that rally their own community, Thank You days and more. Silver Lining has launched Buy from Small Business this week to offer additional ways to support small businesses, including buying merchandise where all profits will be given to member businesses.

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The organization has also launched a four-part, Friday night virtual concert series where you can pay to watch world-class performers and artists live via Zoom and all proceeds go to small businesses.

Leave a positive review online — We've all headed to Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor and other review services to get the lowdown on a small business. These reviews have incredibly tangible impacts on a business. Take a few minutes and leave your favorite small businesses a positive review.

Yelp — Along the lines of a positive review, Yelp announced a partnership with GoFundMe that allows you to make donations to your favorite small businesses directly on a business' Yelp page. Tell your favorite business to sign up for this feature; Yelp and GoFundMe are matching the first $500 donated to each business.

Lobby your government — Multiple city and state governments have created relief funds offering grants and no-interest loans for small business owners. However, many states still have yet to offer any tangible resources. Lobby your state representatives, state economic development boards and governor's office to create these relief funds for small business owners. It takes five minutes to write an email to your local state representative or economic development board.

Say thanks — Tell a small business owner thank you. Write a card, order flowers (which helps the flower shop) or make a sizable tip to the owners and workers in your community. The stress and obligation these owners feel to provide for their employees is palpable. Simply saying thank you goes a long way to brightening someone's day.

Bottom line

If you are in a position to support a small business, please do what you can to help these men and women who are the backbone of our economy. You can also join the TPG Small Biz Facebook group where the conversation on the current environment continues 24/7. We wish all our small business owners and employees the best during these difficult times. If you have any other ways to support small businesses, please send me an email or Facebook private message so I can update this article.