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How to Support Small Businesses

Leigh and Cliff Spencer Owners of Alabama Sawyer

December 21, 2020

Why support small businesses?

Beyond their size, small businesses are defined by their spirit. And at the helm are their intrepid founders—scrappy, ambitious, and resilient. They invent and build things despite uncertainty, because it’s what drives them. Their risks lead to innovation that moves the world forward. And we need them.

Small businesses are important to the economic and social fabric of our society, and we all play a part in their survival.

Competition from chain stores, skyrocketing retail leases, and struggles to secure funding or manage cash flow all contribute to well-known small-business failure rates. But small businesses are important to the economic and social fabric of our society. Here’s why it’s important to support them.

1. They make a positive impact to the local economy

The spread of the global pandemic has undoubtedly affected the economy. We cannot stop this, but we can make a choice with our dollars to help local economies stay afloat and give small businesses a fighting chance to rebound when we emerge from our homes.

Growing companies, some that started in garages or coffee shops, foster eco-systems that enable other small businesses to thrive in their wake. Entrepreneurship inspires and facilitates more entrepreneurship—think online curators, who amplify even more small brands, bringing their products to new audiences.

When you shop local, your dollars stay in the community and help local development.

In terms of local businesses, the impact is even more obvious. When you shop local, your dollars stay in the community and help local development. This is called the multiplier effect. For example, a restaurant buying ingredients from local producers uses a local insurance broker and hires a local design firm, building symbiotic relationships that help the whole business community prosper. 

2. They support communities and job creation

Small businesses, especially in the case of retail stores, are often major contributors to the heart of a community. “Main Street” becomes a hub of activity, where stores, business associations, and local government work collectively to create and preserve the character of their town or neighborhood. A deliberate focus on supporting local business helps drive up the appeal of the shopping area and attracts tourism dollars into the community. The effect has a positive impact on adjacent hotels, attractions, and tours.

A healthy presence of small businesses in communities also helps people learn on-the-job business skills, empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Small businesses also create local jobs. As of 2015, US small businesses employed 58 million people, or 48% of the private workforce. A healthy presence of small businesses in communities also helps people learn on-the-job business skills, empowering the next generation of entrepreneurs.

3. They are often sustainable shopping alternatives

While not true in every case, smaller businesses may have a shorter manufacturer-to-consumer journey, meaning there is more transparency in ingredients, materials, and the source of the products you buy. Small businesses are often makers, producing goods locally. Or they are resellers of products made by small-batch brands.

Smaller businesses often have the means to manufacture and source locally and ethically because of smaller quantities. You may pay more for these goods versus similar items at chain retailers, but you’re paying for the peace of mind that comes with ethical production.

4. They put customer experience first

Large brands have recognized that immersive experiences win in retail, but the intimacy and personalized care of small businesses is hard to scale. Many new business owners launch alone and fill every role in the business, including customer service. Without the layers of management and corporate policy, small business owners can make their own rules. The good ones will bend over backward for each shopper—because every customer matters when you’re small.

Every customer matters when you’re small.

Shopping with small businesses is often a point of discovery. Smaller, local, and handmade goods brands often can’t fulfill wholesale orders for larger chains, and their goods generally can only be bought direct from the business’s own website or sales channels, or in independent retailers. Where department stores win on volume, small businesses shine in diversity and uniqueness.