Four Ways Your Company Can Be A Small-Business Advocate All Year Long

Four Ways Your Company Can Be A Small-Business Advocate All Year Long

John is the co-founder and CEO of Pie Insurance. He’s been responsible for overseeing all aspects of Pie since it was founded in May 2017.

Small businesses make up 99.9% of all firms in the U.S., according to the Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy’s “Frequently Asked Questions.” But, from my perspective, small businesses rarely make the front page news or are regularly celebrated for their accomplishments. Why does that happen?

Working in the insurance industry, I see it every day. Small businesses are often overlooked for being limited, too small and not profitable to serve. We’re all guilty of overlooking a small business because there’s a more convenient big box store, drive-through coffee shop or one-click, instant-gratification option instead.

While small businesses have rebounded in remarkable ways since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, they still face incredible uncertainty amidst an unpredictable economy and job market. As the CEO of a company focused on serving small-business owners, I have seen firsthand how resilient, hopeful and resourceful they are. The past two years have reinforced my company’s mission to help enable small businesses to thrive, but even more so, I’ve been pushed to think about how, as a business leader, I can support small businesses in my community and across the country on a regular basis.

This year, May 2nd through May 5th is dubbed “National Small Business Week.” Organized by the Small Business Administration for more than 50 years, this weeklong recognition is to honor “the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners.” Events like Small Business Week and November’s Small Business Saturday are great moments to support local businesses, but on a whole, organizations can do so much more.

From your local coffee shop owner to your gutter cleaner to your florist, we all have small-business owners who make an impact in our lives. This Small Business Week, I urge you to take note of how you might consider making small and big changes to your business practices and daily habits to increase your support of small-business owners all year round.

Support small businesses from within your organization.

As a business leader, it’s easy to be distracted by your responsibilities of building and growing a company. In addition to your day-to-day activities and meetings, there are countless other decisions being made often without your involvement, such as office snacks, coffee and lunch, company SWAG vendors, holiday party locations and catering, janitorial services and in-office plants and landscaping. All of these little things help make your business a fun, desirable place to work.

Take stock of how many vendors and partners you use. Are any of them small businesses, or are they large corporations? If you’re not involved in your vendor and partner choices today, get involved. Work with your office coordinator to examine local or national small business vendor options that fit into your budget. Even by making one swap or change, you’re helping. Sometimes, one big order can make the difference for a small-business owner.

Shop small all year long.

This one sounds simple, and it’s likely something we’ve all committed to doing before, especially during Small Business Week or Small Business Saturday. But how many of us have actually consistently talked the talk and walked the walk?

Set a mental reminder. Next time you need to go shopping or are looking for something specific, put your phone down. Yes, an online store might have what you need, but the store down the street likely does, too. And if it doesn’t, it can probably help you find it. As a business leader, you understand the concept of customer loyalty and building relationships. The more you get out into your own community and support your local shops, the more relationships you’ll build, which can help you create ties that can make or break a business down the road. Be the customer your own business wants to retain.

Be a marketing machine.

You know the value of having a well-rounded marketing mix of email, social media, easy-to-use websites and more, but many small businesses don’t have the resources or budgets to spend on advertising and marketing their own business. Often, their business comes from word-of-mouth referrals.

For starters, if you enjoy a local business, tell your friends. Write a positive review on Google, Yelp and wherever else they’re listed. Positive reviews can be crucial for any sized business, so lend a hand and boost them up. On the flip side, if you have a negative experience with a small business, you might have the urge to leave a negative review. Take a moment and analyze the negative experience first. Business owners don’t always have all the answers and can have an off day. Or, perhaps they’re struggling with the challenges of hiring and supply chain shortages. I say give them the benefit of the doubt before reaching for the keyboard.

Depending on your relationship with the business, another way to offer marketing assistance is to speak up if you spot an easy opportunity to improve their marketing. Maybe their signage isn’t easy to understand, or you noticed an error on their Facebook page. Oftentimes, little details aren’t being tracked by a business owner, and they’ll appreciate the feedback.

Become a mentor.

If you’ve spent your career building businesses, you understand the ups and downs that local small-business owners go through. Give back in the form of your time and expertise. There are plenty of organizations out there that can match you with small-business owners who are looking for a mentor, advice and a sounding board. It’s incredibly rewarding to become a small part of a small-business owner’s journey.

While it might be impossible only to shop locally or use small businesses for your organization’s needs, there are simple and effective ways to help. I believe small businesses are often overlooked and neglected. As business leaders and members of unique communities, we can all do a little more for the businesses that make up the backbone of our economy.

Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?

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