Since 2016 I’ve worked for a Digital Marketing agency based in Melbourne, Florida. We partner with clients in many different industries all around the globe with a multi-tiered approach to help each client tell their individual stories. I’m passionate about storytelling. It says so in my work bio. 😉 I love my job for many reasons. Above all, over the years, I’ve developed a clear understanding of how to help small businesses and business owners thrive.
Today, there are many business owners and employees who are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, wondering how long the impact of this horrible global pandemic will continue. Unfortunately, the stark reality is many companies have been crippled or irreversibly damaged in the last year.
As a coach’s wife, I’m acutely aware of how generous small business owners are to their local communities. They are the lifeblood of many athletic teams, PTA fundraisers, school trips, church fundraisers, recitals, community concerts, and plays. Now is the time for community members to give back to the businesses that have supported so many events over the years.
The U.S. Small Business Administration reports that there were 30.7 million small businesses in the U.S. in 2019. Freshbooks reported in 2018 that 15 million Americans were self-employed full time and estimated that by 2020 the number would rise to 27 million. Clearly, that number is shifting.
Here are a few stats from 2018 that put small businesses and entrepreneurship into perspective:
62% of small business owners don’t work with any staff.
20% earn less than $20,000 per year.
Life is Changing Rapidly
If you’re a small business owner, you may have seen a lot of your customers pause orders or look for ways to adjust their monthly payment structures. It’s hard to know how to budget for business when you can no longer rely on projections and yearly spending trends. You’ve also likely had to make quick decisions about inventory. As spending habits shift, it impacts entire distribution lines.
Consumers are prioritizing these days differently. In March 2020, Walmart discovered that people were only purchasing new tops because they only needed to dress up for work from the waist up. My priority was to ensure that my favorite businesses didn’t close during the most stressful months. I went out of my way to buy several gluten-free pastries from our favorite coffee shop. I purchased books from my favorite authors, and I bought a few gifts from a favorite local shop. I wanted my favorite people and places to know that their contributions were still important even though life was shifting.
What Small Businesses Can You Support Today?
Will you do me a favor? Will you take a minute and think about your neighbors, friends, and family. Make a list of how many people have a side hustle, own a business, or work for a small start-up company rather than a large franchise. Now, take that same list and consider who you know who draws a salary from mission support. For the rest of this post, keep those people in mind.
Small Businesses and Ministries Need Our Support
There are still so many unknowns. Work hours have been reduced, layoffs are still occurring, and many people are looking for freelance work to realize that businesses are cutting back in areas rather than hiring.
I believe many small business owners will eventually recover, but they may need to restructure to survive. We’ve all learned what we can do without in the last year. That’s great! It’s important to waste less and to buckle down and cut as many costs as possible. However, when it comes to the small businesses and ministries we believe in, we need to think differently.
We Need Moments of Delight
At some point, we will receive the all-clear to gather again in restaurants, churches, coffee shops, museums, co-working spaces, farmers’ markets, bakeries, concerts, and athletic events without masks. We’ll wander around on a Saturday at the Farmer’s Market without intentionally spacing ourselves from strangers. We’ll stop at a food truck for breakfast, grab flowers and the week’s vegetables before heading out to meet friends at our favorite boutique to check out the latest trends in clothing, and we won’t think twice about hugging them.
But let’s pause for a moment. After weeks, possibly months without income, are you sure your favorite business will have the capital to buy supplies and reopen? If everyone stops their memberships or pauses purchasing, how can we expect services to be available for us when we’re ready to resume normal life?
Businesses Still Have Bills
Just like households have rent, utilities, and loans to continue to pay even though we face a global pandemic. The same is true for businesses regardless of size. Payroll, bookkeeping, software, website expenses, inventory, and office rent are just a few typical expenses a small business owner will pay every month.
We have to consider ways we can continue to invest in the businesses we love now, or they may not be around when we emerge from this current crisis.
Ways to Invest in Small Businesses Today:
- Find budget for memberships you believe in
- Use date night money for take-out or delivery if you aren’t comfortable eating in a restaurant
- Allocate money to spend on small businesses that you would normally spend on gas
- Buy gift cards for the businesses you would normally be eating lunch or having coffee in with friends
- If you have a monthly subscription where you purchase items, see if any of your friends want to take advantage of your wholesale discount.
Take inventory of things around your house. I don’t know about you, but I’m still in purging mode since we recently moved. It feels great to get rid of broken items and pass along things our boys have outgrown. However, as items in our house break or wear down, we always need to replace them.
As you replace broken items, check out your local businesses. Even if you have to spend a little extra money, consider the value of investing in that money in your community rather than elsewhere.
Don’t Forget About Your Favorite Ministries
One of the ways that people often tighten their belts in times of crisis is by stopping their giving to churches and nonprofit ministries. But, just like small businesses, the bills don’t pause for ministries during a crisis. In fact, in many cases ministries, finances are stretch thinner as people rely on extra support.
If you support missionaries financially or tithe regularly to your church, it’s important to prioritize keeping these items in your budget even while we are all tightening our belts. It’s not an exaggeration to say that stopping your monthly giving could mean the difference between someone else affording their rent or paying for their groceries on a given month.
So, take a minute and review that list of small business owners. Then, I encourage you to take some time to browse their websites as you’re creating your next shopping list. Note a few items you need or want and figure out how to work them into your budget.
Are you a small business owner? Do you work with a ministry or nonprofit?
I support small businesses and nonprofit ministries through my monthly blog post, Wives Who Thrive. To learn more about this passion project, read my invitation post here. Then, to apply for a feature, fill out this Google Doc so I can share your story!
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on March 24, 2020, and was updated in September 2021 for freshness, accuracy, and completeness.