How to Support Small Business from Home
A guide on how to help small business from your couch and the importance of small business
Supporting small businesses is more important than ever. Imagine a city center without your favorite bakery, the lush flower shop or the cute bar where you take your morning coffee. Imagine your town without the gallerists, the therapists, the book shop,… That’s it: your town would lose its personality and its very own athmosphere.
But small businesses are not only physical. Many of them are based on the net and make an indirect contribution to your life: small photo album creators, business coaches, bookkeeping services, vloggers, and yes, travel blogs.
They only live by your decisions to make your purchase at their business and not at a large, established company. This guide should give you ideas on how to support small business, be it from home, or while being on the road.
Why should We Support Small Business?
There are many reasons why you may start wondering how to support small business from home. You might know the owners, or over the years, you got attached to that business and you want to continue supporting it from home or while being away.
However, small business have another crucial role and that makes it essential to support small business whenever we can. Small business and entrepreneurs are an important column of every economy and every society.
It’s here where people meet, and they inspire people, make them take actions, let them be creative and take actions such as book a trip to, let’s say to Greece. They are gathering places for people where decisions are made, things are created, new ideas emerge,…
In most cases, small businesses and entrepreneurs represent the middle class. Without a middle class, social differences and hence, social tensions increase.
That’s why it is essential that we consciously decide where to spend our money because it actually has a direct social impact!
How do Small Business help the Economy?
According to the World Trade Organization, small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent over 90% of the business population, 60-70% of the employment and 55% of the GDP in the developed economies. SMEs, therefore, do not just significantly contribute to the economy: they ARE the economy!
On top, they often represent excellent employment opportunities. Let’s face it: running a small business involves taking greater risks than working for a large company or the public sector.
However, the rewards are both quantitative and qualitative such as broad-based prosperity and symbiotic relationships.
In short: small entrepreneurs indirectly foster entrepreneurship in others.
Why do I write about small business on this travel blog?
You may wonder why a travel blogger writes about small businesses and entrepreneurs? First, I consider myself a small entrepreneur. In 3 years, I grew this blog to 125.000 readers per month (as of January 2020) . After the lockdown of many country’s borders in March 2020, my travel blog became pointless and couldn’t sustain me anymore. I was facing what millions of other small businesses and entrepreneurs were facing. Regardless of whether they are in travel or not.
Secondly, support small business is an essential part of sustainable travel, the focus of paulinaontheroad.com. If you are wondering how to travel sustainable, you could, for example, make a direct contribution to the local community by purchasing your goods in small, independent shops.
Together with other friends from the blogging industry, I created this guide with ideas on how to help small businesses… from your couch!
That doesn’t mean that I am against large companies! We need them as well! But your decision to buy at a small business will help to spread the revenues of tourism more equally. On top, the local community will experience the direct benefit of your purchase.
Do you have any other idea on how to help small businesses? Let me know in the comment form.
1. Reach out and ask for alternatives
Often, business owners have more than one income stream. But you may only know their main one. If you are wondering how to help small businesses grow and how to support them, actively reaching out is key! Show them that you care!
In my case, I get my income from readers seeing ads and people booking hotels or tours. However, how can you support my travel blog when you’re not planning to travel?
That’s why I created my “Shop” section where I promote sustainable fashion brands, accessories for hiking lovers and wanderlust-themed gadgets for ocean lovers. If you purchase via my “Shop“, I get a small commission and you are supporting me without having to travel anywhere.
Other examples may be interpreters living language classes, artists creating video tutorials, or gyms creating workout plans that you can also do at home. Reach out and show them that you are with them! By doing so, you’ll also help the entrepreneurs to elaborate and focus on that alternative revenue stream. Or even give them a new lifeline!
2. Buy gift cards
Noel Morata – Travel Photo Discovery
It is a tough time for small businesses to survive these uncertain times, especially with governments putting tighter restrictions for social gatherings and human distancing.
It’s not easy to keep your business operating with so many mandates or even complete closure from local governments, but here’s one thing you can do right now.
Buy gift cards from these owners so they can hopefully weather out the storm and keep business floating. It is important to keep these small operators going on through difficult times like COVID-19, disrupting all business activity, especially for smaller business owners.
So, support your local favorites and see if you can purchase things online. Be aware that you are supporting a business during this difficult time frame!
Buying gift cards is a great idea if you are wondering how to help small businesses in a short term.
Here, some of the best places to buy gift cards online:
3. Order online or call up to ask about delivery
Hannah Kacary – That Adventurer Blog
Many small businesses still have an e-commerce aspect. In situations where they’ve been forced to close, they’ve now got the capacity to package orders and make deliveries.
Call up your favorite local business, or message them on social media, and see if you can help them out by using their delivery services. If you live close by, they might be expanding their delivery area. If you live further away, do some online shopping to support them.
You’re wondering how to help small business owners? Ordering online via their shop is definitely a great idea when wondering how to support small business.
Especially delicatessen food shops often boast an online marketplace that’s open all year-round, and which is perfect for gift hampers and special food treats. And, as an added bonus, often delicatessen shops stock local producers. You are not just supporting them, but also all the people that made the products too!
It’s thus one of the best ideas when wondering how to help small businesses grow.
4. Visit travel blogs and read a few articles
Kathi Kamleitner – Watch Me See
Not being able to travel, for whatever reason, sucks and at first glance, visiting travel blogs seems counter-intuitive. But in fact, it is exactly one of the easiest ways you can support those people who always provide tons of free advice, travel tips and destination guides for your holidays!
I’m a professional, full-time travel blogger, and a lot of my income comes from display ads. That means that I earn money, simply by getting eyes on my content, at no extra cost to my readers. No ad clicks or purchases necessary.
Companies pay good money to display their ads on well-performing blogs. However, since none can travel right now, and many people have had to cancel their upcoming trips too, traffic on many travel blogs is at an all-time low. And with that, income from display ads.
The easiest way you can help content creators like myself through this difficult time is to go to their websites, read a few blog posts and show advertisers that people still want to read travel stories. Start with my inspiring post about solo hiking as a woman.
5. Plant a garden
Chris Román – Explore Now or Never
As spring approaches, so does gardening season. What a wonderful time to soothe your soul by reaching deep into the soil to plant seeds for a summer bounty of fragrant flowers, and ripe fruits and vegetables.
I was reminded it was time to plant tomatoes when I received an email from my favorite local nursery recently, Barrels and Branches, here in North County San Diego.
With everyone huddled inside, no one is shopping for plants. Like many businesses, the nursery is adapting its business model to allow drive-through pick-ups for gardening supplies and plants.
And what could be better than welcoming spring with a gardening project? Sunshine, joy, and natures are a welcome antidote to fear in the world right now, and an excellent tool for self-care.
Do you have a little patch of soil in your back yard? Or even a sunny spot indoors near a window? Call your local nursery and ask about placing an online order and drive-through pick-up. Ask for advice on what to plant-based upon your home’s sun exposure and experience as a gardener.
In a few months, when you’re awash in beautiful summer produce and making fewer stops at the grocery store, you’ll be glad you did.
6. Attend an online event
Michelle – Intentional Travellers
Attending an online event from home is a great way to support small businesses and online entrepreneurs, connect with like-minded people from the comfort of your couch, and learn something new.
Whether it’s professional development, online business skills, creative pursuits, at-home exercise, personal growth, cooking skills, or anything else you can imagine, more and more small businesses are creating online events. Some are producing all their own content in the form of a webinar or video series. Others are collaborating with other experts and hosting virtual summits, online conferences, and masterclasses.
To find these online events, check the websites or social media channels of your favorite creators and small businesses to see if they have something planned. Or you can do a web search for topics you’re interested in with keywords like “virtual summit” or “online conference.” Or why not, just ask them about it! Maybe you are throwing a great idea at them!
All you need is a computer and internet connection to either live stream or download the event sessions.
7. Supporting small bookstores and indie authors
Bistra – The Magic of Traveling
Reading is one of the best ways for us to grow and develop our minds. Reading has proved to be one of the best means for helping us out in both tough times and happy times.
If you’re an avid reader, or just becoming one, you’ll notice that bigger bookstores are doing massive discounts on their books pretty much all the time. But how about smaller local bookstores and indie authors?
The truth is they can’t afford to offer 30% discounts, nor huge online advertising campaigns, and therefore, they’re not competitive. If we want to help those people stay in business and survive in the sea of big sharks, we should support them.
Here are a few ways we can support small bookstores and indie authors. You can browse their online stores/websites/social media pages. Why don’t you get in touch with owners of bookstores and authors, chat with them or share feedback, show appreciation of their work? As a self-published author myself, I can’t even describe how a few good words make me feel! The best support we could give, of course, is to buy books from the small local bookstores or indie authors.
Even if we have to pay a bit more (because they are not able to give you the amazing 15% off, buy-2-get-3, free delivery deal), we will actually become richer this way. Richer in humanity, empathy, and goodness. I believe we all want to live in a world of that kind of readers, don’t we?
8. Make a conscious decision and get higher-quality goods
Jen Ambrose and Ryan Victor – Passions and Places
It’s easy to support local businesses when you’re visiting places that have a lot of them. For example, there are so many small businesses in Vermont selling local products from cheese and chocolates to cider and wine. You can visit and tour many of them as well.
But what about when you’re in places that tend to have primarily national chains and big-box stores? Or what if you live in a place that doesn’t have many small businesses?
While you won’t be able to visit those family-owned dairy farms or chocolate factories in person, which unfortunately means missing out on the free samples, many of these types of businesses sell their products online.
And that means you can order them no matter where you’re at. So instead of grabbing a mainstream brand at the grocery store, you could order things like coffee, tea, jam, honey, and even pasta from small-scale producers.
And these types of places usually specialize in one type of product and have perfected their process over years or even generations. So, not only will you be supporting local businesses, but you’ll also get much higher-quality goods. It’s a win-win!
9. Share social media posts
A great way to help small business for free is by showing them some love on their latest social media posts. By sharing them, you’ll help them to spread the word about their passion.
Often, small businesses and entrepreneurs have to cut their marketing expenses, but by sharing their latest tweets, Facebook posts or Instagram photos, you’ll help them to get their business out there.
Short FAQ about how to help small business
There are many ways how you can help small businesses. The main is to be conscious that your decision matters! Proactively, decide to buy in small shops, buy gift cards, or inquire about their online shop.
According to the WTO, the small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) represent over 90 % of the business population, 60-70% of the employment and 55% of the GDP in the developed economies. SMEs therefore do not just significantly contribute to the economy; they ARE the economy!
Make a conscious decision and reach out to them if you have ideas or suggestions. You’ll help the entrepreneurs to elaborate and focus on that alternative revenue stream. Or even give them a new lifeline!