How you can help small and local businesses
Small businesses have been facing a crisis unlike any seen in our lifetimes. Some have been shuttered due to lockdown orders, while others are in the middle of civil unrest.
And while grassroots campaigns to support small business are popping up on fundraising sites like GoFundMe, and there’s been a rallying cry around supporting ordering takeout from local restaurants, many of us already feel stretched and are limited in the amount of monetary support we can give, no matter how much we’ve love them.
With that being said, it's imperative that we come together to support our local businesses right now.
Engage with their content on social media and leverage your networks
Almost everyone has a profile on some form of social media, and while our networks may vary in size and reach, a following of any size constitutes a network. Right now, many small businesses are looking to their social media following to help them amplify critical business information and share fundraising opportunities to broader audiences, and consumers are well equipped to support.
Many consumers aren’t aware which businesses are open or closed, or if there are limited hours or capacity. Many restaurants that haven’t previously offered take-out are now operating on delivery platforms, or are opening up with limited hours and menus. Some storefronts in the US have been affected by protesting, but are still operating behind shuttered windows. And many supermarkets and grocery stores have implemented senior citizen only hours.
When businesses share these critical updates on social media, resharing it to your networks not only gives the small business more exposure, but you may also provide someone in your network with critical information about a business or service they need right now.
When it comes to sharing fundraising information, we know budgets are tight and every purchase is more carefully considered than in previous times. If you’re not able to donate money to a business, consider sharing their fundraising information with a personal story about why this business means so much to you. Telling your friends and family why this business is important to you is more likely to inspire others to donate and support them.
The small businesses you care about will greatly benefit from any exposure you can give them and could help them make it through these difficult times.
Consider offering free services or expertise
Many of us have something extremely valuable to offer small businesses that isn’t cash. We know how much our professional experience is worth and oftentimes, that comes at a high price. Right now, many small businesses can’t afford to take on additional expenses even if they need the help, which is why now is the perfect time to consider offering your services pro bono.
For example, many businesses are looking for legal advice on how to navigate insurance claims for business interruption, or negotiation with landlords on rent deferrals. Legal fees are an expense many businesses may not be able to afford right now and consumers with a legal background may be able to provide pro bono guidance on some of these critical issues that businesses are facing.
On Trustpilot, we’ve seen increased interest in the loans and financing categories, but oftentimes quick financing can come with crippling terms and sky high interest rates. If your background is in banking or finance, can you offer guidance to small businesses on how to secure the best financing that ensures the business will succeed long-term?
A major hurdle that many businesses have faced over the past weeks is the transition to digital platforms. Even in the age of Amazon, many small and local businesses still operate exclusively in a brick and mortar capacity. For many of these businesses to succeed, they will have to get online as soon as possible. Consumers with experience in web development or ecommerce platforms may be able to help some of their favorite small businesses get online quickly so they can continue to operate during social distancing.
Creative services also have a role to play here. Small businesses that are joining social media for the first time may be in need of advice on social media strategies and support in writing copy for their social channels. Businesses moving to a digital platform may have photography or graphic design needs to get their products online. Offering your creative talents to local business may help them get their products and branding up to date quickly.
So consider your skills and if they might be of service to any of the local or small businesses you love. You may find that helping your favorite restaurant get their social media profile started, or helping the mom and pop shop on the corner get their online store running may be exactly what they need to ensure a level of business continuity.
Organize a volunteer cleanup and repair team
After the global protesting and rioting over the past few weeks, many businesses have been damaged or affected in some way. Small businesses may have been left with damage that need repair or cleaning. Consider partnering with these local businesses and organizing teams of people from the neighborhood to help make these repairs, and clean up the businesses and streets where they are located.
For those who can’t risk being around others and exposing themselves to Coronavirus, consider organizing donations or drives to support cleanup efforts. From the safety of your home, you can start a fundraiser using one of many fundraising sites to help businesses get the money they need to rebuild quickly.
If you have access to donated construction materials, ask local businesses what they need to get up and running again. You can also donate masks, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment so that the cleanup crews and employees stay safe while rebuilding these businesses and communities.
Leave reviews for businesses
At Trustpilot, we know that to upgrade the world businesses need to hear from consumers. And now more than ever, consumer feedback is critical in helping businesses adapt and rebuild quickly.
Trustpilot’s open review platform allows you to let both businesses and consumers know about a legitimate experience you’ve had with a business. Especially in a time of social distancing, when traditional spheres of influence such as friends and family are less accessible, an open review platform aggregates the experiences of a community and tells other consumers what to expect.
You can contribute to this community by letting a business know how their service has been critically important or how they have room to improve their operations during this time when you leave a review on Trustpilot. Your feedback can help small businesses make smart decisions that keep their staff and consumers safe, and get them back up and running as quickly as possible.