How to Make Every Week "National Small Business Week"
Many of us are familiar with Small Business Saturday, the Thanksgiving weekend day dedicated to supporting the small businesses that make up our figurative and literal Main Street America. Perhaps less well known but equally as important (and fun!) is an entire week of small business appreciation, and we happen to be in the middle of it! This year, May 1st through May 7th has been declared by the Small Business Administration to be the 53rd annual National Small Business Week. During this week, the nation honors the 28 million small businesses that are a hallmark of America’s entrepreneurial spirit. It’s a good time to reflect on how small and local businesses affect our lives and our communities.
More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create approximately two out of every three new jobs. In the Sierra we are lucky to have so many entrepreneurs in our midst, creating wonderful products and services to make life in the mountains a little easier and a lot more fun! From ski shops and paddleboard rentals to hardware stores and printing companies, our neighbors and friends benefit from the success of our diverse community of local shops. So, how can we ensure that these businesses not only survive, but thrive?
The most obvious answer is the oft-heard refrain “shop local.” And while this is certainly an excellent way to boost sales and encourage success, there are also a number of other ways to support independent businesses in our towns. Here are some creative ideas to make sure our communities stay vibrant!
- Share! Referrals are some of the best sources of business in our small, word-of-mouth towns. Have a great experience at your local auto shop? Bump into the designer of your favorite sticker at a coffee shop? Help your neighbor out when she gets into a fender bender, or tell someone needing new stickers for their business about that nice guy you met last week.
- Be honest and direct. It’s only natural that you have a bad experience every once in a while. Help the business improve its service by speaking directly with the owner about what went wrong and how to better serve the customer. Owners rely on good customer service to achieve success, but they don’t have eyes in the back of their heads. If you’ve had a less than stellar time at a bar or restaurant, skip the poor online review and go straight to the source. Direct feedback is more likely to result in a positive outcome for everyone.
- Partner up! Do you own a small knitting business out of your home but would love to have more customers? Talk to your friend about the candles that she makes, and have an open house together. Sharing customers and promoting each other’s hard work lets more people experience your success, and helps your friend out too.
- Get involved. Volunteering in your local community is a surefire way to make connections and support businesses. Is the neighborhood maker-space having a work party to paint the walls? Join in! You’ll meet people, have fun, and offer invaluable manpower to a business in need of the strength found in numbers.
Shopping and supporting your local small businesses creates healthy, employee-friendly communities on “the roads less traveled.” By working together to treat every week like it's National Small Business Week, we can make sure that local businesses continue to thrive in the beautiful towns of the Sierra that we call home.