shop with shelves full of items

19 October 2020

How to support small and local businesses in your community

Small businesses are the beating heart of local communities and they’ll only thrive if locals make full use of them and support them.

This is more true than ever as small businesses are forced to adapt to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic: many of them have become a true community lifeline.

But it’s not always easy to know how to do your bit to support local businesses and social enterprises. Here are some ways you can help.

Shop local

First, the obvious one: shop local. Giving your business to local and independent shops instead of chains can do a lot to help small businesses. Many small and local businesses now offer online services, so you can support local with your purchases both off and online purchases.

Picking up your groceries from local farm shops or bakeries where you can, instead of shopping at large chain supermarkets supports independent businesses and means your money goes directly back into your local economy. Besides, who doesn’t want some fresh and yummy local produce?

Naturally, there may be occasions where smaller shops don’t cover your list, and you need to head to a large store to source some more niche items. In these cases, do your research about which supermarkets do their best to source products locally and support the local communities.

You can also opt to support small fashion boutiques or independent retailers in your local area, these are also typically more environmentally friendly as well.


Leave positive reviews and share the word

It’s free to leave a positive review on TripAdvisor, Google or social media and takes only a few minutes of your time, but the benefit to the business could be huge. If you’ve had a good experience with a restaurant, bar or even a product, leave a nice review to help it attract more business.

You could even go one step further by sharing details about the business with your friends and family. Word of mouth is one of the most valuable marketing tools for small businesses, so make sure to share the word.

Social media also opens up a great avenue to support local businesses. You can use location tags on Facebook and Instagram to share venues you visit with your followers and friends. Even a small gesture like following your favourite small boutique and liking and sharing their content on Instagram can mean a lot.


Plan days out closer to home

Instead of travelling further afield for fun days out, try to make the most of your local area. Choose to visit local attractions as opposed to driving across the country to the bigger more well-known attractions. You may be surprised by what hidden gems you can find on your doorstep.

If you’re looking for somewhere to take the kids in the school holidays, or just hoping to fill a weekend with lots of fun, visiting a social enterprise is a great idea. Social enterprises are independent businesses that funnel their profits to good causes, and back into the community.

They might include zoos, museums, nature reserves, leisure centres and much more. Choosing to take a day out at a social enterprise is not only great fun but can directly benefit local communities.


Always tip if you can

Although tipping is not expected in the UK the same way it is in many other countries, why not go the extra mile when you’ve received great local service and leave a tip of around 10-15%, or whatever you can afford? It’s not compulsory, but it’s a nice way to show your appreciation and help businesses as they weather the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.


Offer your support

Small businesses play a huge part in the community, and without them our towns, cities and countryside would lose their unique charm. There are many ways you can help businesses throughout the community, but the easiest way you can offer your support is by reaching out to them.

Write a letter to your favourite small cafe or shop and let them know you are supporting them and would like to help however you can.

Use your experience and platform to the business’s advantage by offering up your expertise. Maybe you are a website designer, blogger, or social media expert? You could use these skills to help small businesses build an online presence.

Finally, if you have the time and resources to offer yourself up for voluntary work, this can be a huge help to smaller businesses. What may only take up a few hours of your time, can be a lifeline to a local business.

There are many more ways you can support local businesses, such as:

  • Buy vouchers from local businesses to give to friends and family as gifts
  • Try and avoid cancelling meals out at local restaurants and pubs at the last minute.
  • Treat yourself: order from that new local takeaway you’ve been meaning to try
  • Craft brewers are popping up everywhere: try a tipple from them before buying major brands
  • Find out if local farms and producers sell produce like eggs and be sure to take advantage

Supporting local businesses is not only a way to strengthen your local community, but you could discover some great products and services along the way. So, when you are deciding where to spend your money, consider the benefits of turning to the local businesses in your community.

Published: 19/10/2020

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