Shop Local! Support the Contribution Small Businesses Make to Our Economy

The contribution of small businesses to the U.S. economy always amazes me given the scarce resources most of these businesses have. Support your local businesses through the holidays and through the first months of 2021. The first quarter of the years is always the hardest on small local businesses.

Remember the contribution small businesses makes to our economy:

44% of U.S. economic activity comes from businesses with less than 500 employees.

49.2% percent of private-sector employment and 42.9 percent of private-sector payroll,46 percent of private-sector output.

These businesses need support from the Federal level to return to pre-Covid-19 levels of productivity. In addition, Federal and State governments must create funding that provides the working capital to address the financial impact on business owner reserves and accumulated debt from commercial property leases, pre-recession business loans and home mortgages. For women and minority owned businesses the financial impact is particularly severe.

What Small Business Owners Can Do
Unfortunately, the public policy response to small business needs is slow and may take months to get funds to businesses. Here are examples of what business owners can do to keep customers coming back and attract new ones.

  • Add a personal touch to everything delivered remotely or by pick up.

We order tea from Perennial Tea in Seattle Washington because we drop in when we travel there. In every delivery package we get a personal thank you note from the owner, so we keep ordering.

In order pick up situations, say Thank You to every customer with good eye contact and smile even if they can’t see you mouth. Your eyes will be brighter and more engaging.

  • Create new related revenue streams. If you are in a market that is very unstable because of difficult open and closing rules, then create or invent new product or services lines.

In one of our group programs we led for small businesses in 2009-10, a florist with a specialty in weddings, added to page on her website to share pictures of Ikebana flower arrangements, a Japanese approach to floral design she was studying. A new set of customers started coming to her to buy arrangements in the Ikebana style.

  • Think about customer needs for personal services and expertise like your business has that can be delivered remotely that make quarantine conditions better.

Nail salons have been hit hard. Remember that people do need to take care of their hands and feet even more now that many are doing more cooking, home repair, and improvements projects. Deliver your expert knowledge about hand and foot care out to prior customers in zoom sessions. Then show them all the safety measures in your salon and invite them to enjoy having beautiful hands again.

Be bold and reach out to new potential customers like men to take care of their hands and feet better.

I saw one mature woman taking a young man to the hair and nail section in my local CVS. She pointed out the merchandise to buy and was giving basic instructions on how to use them. Share your knowledge and expertise when you can.