By Victor Downie
We all have witnessed the havoc the COVID-19 pandemic has caused on small businesses, community-owned ones included. These businesses were badly hit after governments issued the stay-at-home directives and canceled public events at the beginning of the pandemic. Being small businesses probably without websites in place, the reduced foot traffic also meant reduced transactions. Most of these businesses are still struggling to stay alive a year later. Unfortunately, the community suffers greatly when businesses aren’t doing well.
While the government will need to come out strong and help these businesses stay afloat, individuals can also help in their small ways to improve their financial position. However, before we dwell on that, let’s first see how community businesses help the community.
How community businesses benefit the local people
They are started and run by the community, to benefit from the trade to counter needs such as rural isolation and urban deprivation. Some of the ways they help the community include:
- Selling locally grown produce
- Generating energy
- Helping disadvantaged groups such as people living with disabilities
- Creating jobs
- Training locals for employment
- Providing cheap housing to the locals
- Helping the locals save money and attain development loans
How can you help?
If there is anything that the pandemic has taught us, it is the importance of community. You thrive when your community is thriving. That is why you should do your best to help the community businesses around you. Compress all the necessary files for this project, zip them into a single archive and start doing your most.
I. Change how you shop
One of the most obvious ways you can help these businesses is to buy their products and services. However, this is not so obvious during the pandemic as governments continue to sensitize people on the importance of social distancing. Most people have shifted to online shopping in a bid to stay away from crowds as well as for convenience. Unfortunately, most community businesses are small businesses that do not have websites. To support them, you need to be deliberate in shifting from digital shopping to making an effort to visit these businesses physically.
II. Spread the word about your favorite community business
Most people are willing to give businesses a chance upon a recommendation from other people. After purchasing from these community businesses, pass a word of mouth to others. You can also use online platforms such as social media and community forums to recommend these businesses to the people in your community. Leaving a positive review will not only send more customers to them, but will also help build their online reputation.
III. Buy gift cards
The main struggle for these businesses is the lack of cash to operate during these tough times. If you purchase a gift card today for non-essential items, you are putting cash into their pockets. You can then use your gift card later when things improve.
IV. Be more generous with tips
The cash flow problem is forcing many businesses to cut back on expenses. The most affected area is employees’ salaries. When you tip the employees working in community businesses, you will be lifting their spirits and motivating them to do their best despite having to survive on pay cuts. This way, they will serve customers better-raising the reputation of these businesses.
On top of purchasing from these businesses, you can volunteer your services whenever you can. This will go a long way in improving their efficiency.
How other businesses can help
Most businesses are struggling through the pandemic, but they can still find ways to support community businesses around them. Besides using their services for your business, you can think of incentives that you can use to entice people to buy from them. For instance, you can give discounts to customers who show you a receipt from a community business of choice. This way, you help them get customers and attract more to your business while at it.
I. Reduce expenses further
While community businesses fight to attract more customers to their businesses, they need to think of ways to reduce their expenses. So far, most are operating with fewer people while others have cut down their expenses significantly. However, they can still do more. Outsourcing some of their operations is a good place to start. For instance, they can work with PEO service providers to outsource their HR department. On top of saving money in hiring, they will save more time, which they can channel to doing more pressing duties such as growing their businesses.
PEO service providers can also help them hire the best talents, necessary for taking their businesses to the next level. Besides, these firms can help them expand globally by helping with issues such as visa applications. For instance, for businesses who would like to expand to Singapore, applying for a Singapore business visa would be easy and successful using a PEO services provider.
If you need to understand more about how a PEO works, read more about it here.
Community businesses do a lot of good things to the world. It is the duty of everyone who values community to play a part in ensuring that these businesses stay afloat in the pandemic. Make a deliberate decision to be a part of the change by choosing to help these businesses in all the ways that you can.