Today's #smallbusinesssaturday, the one day of the year we're encouraged to shop small. The large companies and corporations have 364 days in the year to reign you in, along with huge revenues, and we get today. The same large companies and corporations who brought Black Friday to the masses, who turn over profits in excess of millions, if not billions, who steal the ideas of small businesses and sell them for cheaper than we ever could courtesy of economies of scale, and so on... Thanks capitalism!
Although I have various special offers running over the long shopping weekend, as a small business I made a decision not to compete with others on price slashing. I am o n e p e r s o n hustling from noon til night to do everything on my own and do not have huge profit margins that can be eaten away at by a sale. In fact, if you're also a small business owner you'll know that when you're self employed the term profit is a bit of a misnomer, as it's the money we make from running our business that a) keeps the business running and b) keeps the bills paid.
But here's the other thing, although small businesses need to make money in order to survive, support doesn't HAVE to take the form of money alone. It's a privilege to have sufficient disposable income to buy anything, let alone everything, we want. So please, don't let anyone shame you into thinking that you're not being supportive if you're not spending money.
There are many other ways on this day, and all other 364, to support small and I list some of these below:
In the age of social media, sharing information/posts/photos (with consent, and credit, of course) is a wonderful way to support those you admire. If you think someone is producing great work let others know! Word of mouth is POWERFUL and with the rise of technological communication we no longer have to be face-to-face with someone to share our recommendations. Of course if you have made purchases sharing photos is a great way to provide social proof, something that has become increasingly important when there are 100's if not 1,000's of small businesses doing the same thing.
Commenting on the posts you see across social media, as well as liking them, helps to expand engagement organically. It's also very validating for business owners to see real words written by real people*, especially when algorithms are determining whether posts are even worthy of being shown to followers. Once upon a time Facebook and Instagram were perfect for small businesses, as a large amount of information could be circulated to a large number of people in real time, and repeatedly! Now these two platforms control exactly who sees what post and when, making it very difficult for small businesses to reach even 1% of their follower base, and then asking for money to "reach more of your followers". Infuriating.
Whether you've made a purchase or not, providing constructive feedback is always valuable. In fact, the very reason you haven't made a purchase might be the most important feedback small businesses can receive! What sets us apart from large companies and corporations is the personal and responsive aspect. It's being small enough to have one-on-one conversations with people. It's also being able to make decisions based on feedback and customer reviews. Sure, there are certain parameters within which we all have to and want to operate, but there is also a lot of scope in between. So if you have something constructive, encouraging, or illuminating to say, say it! Of course, it's important to note here that unsolicited advice and opinions can prove detrimental, so always ask someone first. A simple "would you like some feedback?" can go along way to opening up a comfortable and honest conversation.
There are undoubtedly many other ways to support small businesses that don't require financial investment, so I will try to expand on this in the future; but for now I'd simply like to thank everyone who has supported my small business over the past 20 months. It's a privilege to have been afforded the opportunity to start this project, but its development and growth is not something I take for granted. So thank you, thank you all.
* perhaps you saw, either as a small business owner or social user of Instagram, there used to be an unbelievable number of bots that liked and commented on posts which left business owners more vulnerable than validated.