Tag: small business

4 Ways to Uplift Small Businesses in Your Community

With nearly half of all Americans employed by a small business, these establishments need our support more than ever.

According to the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index, 46 percent of business owners surveyed have seen a drop in revenue over the past 12 months, with some entrepreneurs seeing even more severe impact.

“Small businesses are at the heart of our communities and the key to millions of jobs,” says Steve Troutner, head of Small Business, Wells Fargo. “Keeping spending dollars in local communities is an impactful way to rally around small business owners.”

Wells Fargo is sharing four ways to uplift small businesses near you:

1. Shop local. While one-stop shopping on leading e-commerce sites can be tempting, the simple act of purchasing something from your favorite local retailer can go a long way in keeping business afloat and money in your community. Returning or exchanging gifts? Ask for store credit instead of cash. It helps keep money with a small business and makes their cash flow more stable.

Many shops have safety measures in place, such as limiting occupancy or offering contactless pick-up.

2. Eat local. Support your neighbors by dining at locally-owned establishments. Getting takeout or having food delivered? Order directly from the restaurant rather than through third-party sites that take a cut. When it comes to food shopping, opt for neighborhood grocers, which often carry produce from small family-owned farms and other locally-sourced goods. Many offer the same curbside pickup and delivery options as major chains.

3. Uplift diverse-owned businesses. Keep in mind that minority- and women-owned businesses have been hard hit by COVID-19. Many are counting on your patronage to survive.

To help entrepreneurs stay open and support local jobs, Wells Fargo is deploying approximately $400 million from its Open for Business Fund to nonprofits serving small businesses. The initiative focuses on increasing access to training and flexible capital that businesses can use for rent, utilities, payroll and other business needs. If you are a business owner looking for assistance and resources, visit wellsfargo.com/shoplocal to learn more.

4. Shine a light on your favorite business. Whether it’s expanding outdoor patios and installing heat lamps or updating tech to facilitate contactless checkout, small businesses have had to get creative to stay relevant. One simple way of supporting businesses as they make these changes is to follow them on social media and give positive reviews on websites like Yelp.

As part of its “Many hearts. One community” campaign, Wells Fargo is highlighting the determination, resilience and creativity that so many small business have shown this past year.

“Community has meant everything to me,” says Kadijatu Ahene, owner of Dija’s Touch Designs, which benefitted from Wells Fargo and Local Initiatives Support Corporation working together. “The challenges we’re dealing with have brought us closer. Whether its friends and neighbors checking on me and my girls, delivering food and more, COVID has reminded us that we need each other to move forward in unity.”

The Various Advantages to Shopping Locally

Residents of a given town or city are often encouraged to support local businesses by looking to these firms to fill their needs. Small businesses are not just integral parts of communities, employing millions across the country, they also are operations that fund the very communities they service.

Efforts to promote shopping local appear to be working. According to the Commonwealth Financial Group, over the last several years there has been a shift in consumer purchasing behavior marked by a preference among consumers to support locally owned shops and stores over big-box retailers and even online shopping. The following are some key reasons why shopping locally not only benefits small business owners, but also the communities they call home and the customers they serve.

• More money stays in the community: According to the American Independent Business Alliance, for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remains in the community. Conversely, only 43 percent of every $100 spent at a chain retailer stays in the community.

• Job creation: The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies says local businesses create the majority of economic growth. They employ millions of Americans by creating roughly two-thirds of private sector jobs. Local business owners also tend to hire people who represent the demographics of the communities where the business is located, which may include historically underserved populations.

• Diversity of products: Local stores tend to diversify their products and services to meet the needs of the local communities, whereas chain stores often stock their shelves based on national demands.

• Personalized service: A small business owner may be more inclined to go to great lengths to make customers happy because the long-term success of the business depends on customers becoming repeat customers.

• Personal connection: Knowing the people behind a business facilitates a connection not easily achieved with other companies. Customers may celebrate when a favorite business succeeds and look to spread the word about that business because they feel like they played a positive role in its success.

Shopping locally has gained momentum and is fueled by the many advantages to supporting local businesses.

Shopping Locally is Now More Crucial Than Ever

The importance of shopping locally has been emphasized with increasing urgency in recent years. Events like Small Business Saturday and Plaid Friday have brought some much-needed attention to the importance of shopping local, which is even more crucial now as so many small businesses try to survive the pandemic.

A poll from the trade group the National Federation of Independent Business reported that about half of all the businesses in the survey reported a 25 percent drop in sales since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, and roughly one in five businesses have seen sales decline by more than 50 percent. If the economic climate does not radically improve, 20 percent of small businesses won’t survive.

According to NBC News, small businesses employ 60 million people in the United States, almost half of the nation’s private-sector employees. In addition, small businesses generate tax revenues that help communities by funding schools, maintaining parks and contributing to public safety programs. However, based on research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, even before COVID-19 spread across the world, only 20 percent of healthy small businesses had sufficient cash reserves to continue to operate if they experienced a revenue loss for two months. Some have been shuttered for much longer. Individuals looking for everything from clothing to home improvement services to office supplies can look to small businesses to fill those needs.

• Look for small businesses for any and all of your shopping needs. Chances are items sold by big box retailers also are sold by small businesses. When the options are the same or similar, purchase from a small business instead of its big box competitor.

• Readily provide recommendations of small businesses with which you have done business. Too often people are quick to complain about places that have failed them, but those same people don’t think to say kind words about companies that went above and beyond. Share great experiences on social media or through word of mouth.

• Talk to small businesses owners first if you have an issue. It’s tempting to go directly to social media to complain about something, but such complaints can have a dire impact. Always take issues to the manager or business owner first to see if a resolution can be reached. A manager may not be aware of an issue at all. Give small businesses a chance to make it right before taking things public.

• If you own a small business, rely on other small businesses to fulfill your needs. Order supplies from fellow small business owners, seek the help of local financial advisors and tax professionals and use local suppliers and delivery personnel.

Small businesses have experienced unprecedented setbacks due to COVID-19. By supporting small businesses, communities can help them regain stable footing.

How Small Businesses Can Prepare for a Unique Holiday Season

When the famous ball dropped in Times Square on New Year’s Eve and 2020 officially began, few people might have anticipated what awaited the world in the months ahead. By the end of March, a global pandemic had changed the way people across the globe lived their lives as governments scrambled to prevent a potentially deadly virus from spreading. No aspect of life has been left untouched by the COVID-19 outbreak, including how people shop. Stay-at-home measures and government-mandated closures proved a formidable challenge for small business owners. Another challenge awaits such businesses this holiday season, when consumers are expected to do much of their shopping online.

Many small businesses thrive on welcoming customers into their facilities. While no one can predict how long social distancing measures will remain in place, it’s reasonable to assume that consumers may be hesitant to visit stores en masse this holiday season. But the spirit of the holiday season will return, and that spirit will still compel consumers to look for gifts for their loved ones. Small business owners looking to capitalize on the holiday shopping season can try these strategies as they prepare for what promises to be a unique final month of 2020.

• Start early. Holiday promotions typically feature discounted items, and small business owners can hit the ground running by announcing sales well in advance of the holiday season. Consumers have adapted to lengthy delivery times during the outbreak, and retail analysts predict many will begin shopping earlier than ever before to account for potential delivery problems. By discounting items early, small business owners can put themselves in position to capitalize on early bird shoppers.

• Keep sales going. The Bureau of Economic Analysis noted that economic growth in the United States declined by 5 percent in the first quarter of 2020, and in June the Congressional Budget Office predicted that growth would ultimately decline by 38 percent. Such figures suggest that money will be tight this holiday season, and small business owners can expect to compete for every dollar. By starting sales early and keeping those sales going throughout the holiday season, small business owners can put themselves in the best position possible to capitalize on consumer spending, however limited that spending may be.

• Apply past experiences. Small businesses have had more than a few litmus tests to gauge consumer behavior during the outbreak. Easter marked the first major holiday to occur while stay-at-home restrictions were in place, and since then retail holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have come and gone. Small business owners can examine consumer behavior during past retail holidays to inform their approaches to the coming holiday season. If consumers expressed a desire for gift packages that reduced their need to make multiple shopping trips, small business owners can design and promote gift baskets filled with an assortment of products available in their stores. Creativity figures to be a necessity to attract customers this holiday season, and past retail holidays can inspire a new approach.

Small businesses can confront the challenge of the coming holiday season by embracing a handful of strategies to attract consumers during what promises to be a season unlike any other in recent memory.

Take-Out Tips When Dining at Home

Although takeout has long been a convenience enjoyed by people around the world, in recent months takeout became a key way for many restaurants to stay afloat when the novel coronavirus COVID-19 forced many to close their facilities to customers. Restaurants have been allowed to remain open, though they have been forced to change their business models. In a matter of weeks, establishments that were not accustomed to offering takeout quickly reimagined their operations to offer curbside pickup or delivery options.

In turn, many communities promoted movements to help keep restaurants afloat, with some encouraging residents to participate in Takeout Thursdays to patronize struggling bars, restaurants and delis. Takeout has always provided a respite from cooking meals at home, but it seems especially welcomed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Now more than ever, individuals and families could use a break from cooking three meals per day. When opting for takeout, consider these tasty tips:

• Support small businesses. Independent restaurants could have a tougher time bouncing back from reduced sales and income than large restaurant chains. When seeking out food- and beverage-related businesses, lean heavily on mom-and-pop restaurants, many of which are pillars in their communities. These are the businesses whose owners may have children in your local schools or those who sponsor local sports leagues.

• Investigate food safety. Inquire about the safety measures restaurants are taking to ensure food safety. Most restaurants and delivery services are enacting even more safety measures than are required by law. Keep in mind, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, “There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” Simple hand washing after touching food packaging and your food or face may be sufficient.

• Learn new protocol. Ask the business what their requirements are for ordering food. Some restaurants will bring the order directly to your car through curbside pickup. Others may enable you to enter the establishment if you are wearing a mask. Delivery only might be the policy at another establishment. Follow all rules, as they have been implemented to keep you and the business employees safe.

• Pay by credit card. When placing an order for takeout or curbside pickup, pay by credit card online or over the phone if that is an option. This limits how much you and restaurant employees have to handle cards or cash.

• Avoid direct handoffs. Ask the counter server or delivery person to put down your order and step away before you grab it. This is an extra step to combat the spread of the virus.

Even as stay-at-home restrictions are being relaxed, takeout figures to remain popular. Certain tips can keep everyone well fed and safe and help bars and restaurants stay afloat.