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Success of Local Businesses Resides in Our Hands

20 May 2024

We often under-estimate the significant impact that residents can have on local businesses without spending money.  Yes, spending money ultimately is what keeps any business in business, but not every business is needed by everyone at any given time.  However, here are ten ways that residents can support local businesses in becoming more vibrant.


One of the most effective no-cost methods to support local businesses is through word-of-mouth promotion. Sharing positive experiences with friends, family, and social media followers can significantly increase a business's customer base. Many studies indicate consumers are more likely to trust and visit businesses recommended by someone they know.


Liking, sharing, and commenting on local businesses' social media posts enhances their visibility. A survey by BrightLocal shows 91% of consumers read online reviews, and 84% trust them as much as personal recommendations. By actively engaging with businesses online, residents help amplify their reach and attract new customers.


Leaving positive reviews on platforms such as Google, Yelp, and TripAdvisor can boost a business's reputation. A study by Harvard Business School found that a one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5-9% increase in revenue. Additionally, a study by the Boston Consulting Group found small businesses that are highly engaged on social media saw revenue increases of up to 20%.  Encouraging friends and family to leave positive reviews can similarly help local businesses thrive.


Supporting and promoting local events hosted by businesses can help increase their visibility. Whether it’s a store opening, a local market, chamber ribbon-cutting, or a community event, showing up and sharing these events on social media or community boards can drive attendance and interest in local enterprises.


Facilitating connections between local businesses and potential partners or customers can lead to mutually beneficial collaborations. For example, a local café could partner with a nearby bookstore to host a book club, drawing customers to both businesses. Networking within the community can uncover numerous opportunities for such synergies.


Active participation in local government can influence policies that benefit local businesses. Attending town meetings, voicing support for business-friendly initiatives, and participating in planning committees can lead to a more supportive environment for local commerce. For instance, advocating for reduced business regulations or improved infrastructure can have long-term positive effects.


Creating or participating in community groups focused on supporting local businesses can consolidate efforts. The American Independent Business Alliance documented numerous cases where "buy local" campaigns have successfully shifted consumer spending towards local businesses, resulting in significant economic benefits for communities.

Initiatives like "buy local" campaigns or "shop small" events can raise awareness and encourage more residents to support their local economy. Studies by Civic Economics show that local businesses recirculate a higher percentage of revenue locally compared to national chains, which highlights the importance of these initiatives.


Residents can create blogs, vlogs, or social media content featuring local businesses. Highlighting the unique aspects and stories behind these businesses can attract attention and interest. Content creation not only provides businesses with free publicity but also helps build a stronger connection between the business and the community.  Providing constructive feedback can help local businesses improve their products and services.  Positive reviews are crucial, honest, and provide constructive feedback given directly to business owners that can help them understand customer needs and enhance their offerings.


Putting it all together, a great example is Detroit SOUP, a micro-granting dinner celebrating creative projects in Detroit.  It is an excellent example of community-driven support for local businesses. Residents pitch in by attending events, voting on pitches, and networking, leading to the funding, and nurturing of local initiatives.


Residents have multiple avenues in which they can support their local businesses without spending money. Through word-of-mouth, social media engagement, positive reviews, attending events, networking, volunteering skills, participating in local governance, organizing support initiatives, and providing feedback, residents can help create a thriving local economy. These efforts not only benefit local businesses but also enhance the overall vibrancy and cohesion of the community.


John Newby is a nationally recognized Columnist, Speaker, & Publisher. He consults with Chambers, Communities, Business & Media. His “Building Main Street, not Wall Street,” column appears in 60+ newspapers and media outlets. As founder of Truly-Local, he assists chambers, communities, media, and businesses in creating synergies that build vibrant communities. He can be reached at: John@Truly-Local.org.