Small business owners need our help but for many of us, our own resources are stretched right now. Here are 5 free things you can do to make a difference.

The cost of the Coronavirus pandemic is devastating. Over 1.5 million lives have been lost worldwide (as of this writing) and many other people are fighting for their livelihood as the economic impact is felt across the globe. It seems overwhelming, but there are ways you can make a difference right here at home.

Small business owners have been hit hard by mandated closures, with retail restricted in some cases and restaurants limited to take-out only. Many of the owners are our neighbors, people just like you and me. For them, the financial impact doesn't mean they can't afford the mortgage on another vacation home this year, or they have to buy a smaller yacht, it may mean closing up shop and having to let go employees that have become like family.

Spending money where you can is the ideal solution. Consider supporting local businesses v.s. the chain restaurants or big box stores when you make purchases. Of course, many of us have to be mindful of our own money right now, so here are 5 free things you can do to help small businesses:

  1. Tell your friends and family
  2. Write a positive review
  3. Follow them on social media
  4. Engage with their posts
  5. Give them a shout out

Word of mouth is a big driver of business. People may be more likely to try a new business on the recommendation of a friend, family member or coworker. Positive reviews on sites like Google and Yelp! are a way of boosting the score of a good business- it's like telling friends you don't know yet. Following your favorite local businesses on Facebook, twitter and Instagram adds to their credibility with more followers and let's you know when something special is happening. Engaging with those posts- a like, comment or share, makes a HUGE difference in how many people see that message. Lastly, give them a shout out to your friends, family and fans on your own social media accounts.

It doesn't have to cost anything to spread goodwill and reputation and help keep the thriving local business community alive and well in Southwest Michigan.

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