It’s the holiday season, try to shop small and local businesses as much as you can and help support our local economy. I wrote this article for H&R Block, specifically for small and local business owners and it appeared in their newsletter a month ago. In case you didn’t see it, I wanted to share with you…
If you have a small business, being online is imperative. One simple tactic, like having a Facebook page, blog site, website or place banner ads on geo-location centric sites, can make a world of difference in terms of generating new customers and awareness for your small business or store.
I recently became interested in triathlons. It’s such a specialized sport and because triathlons encompass swimming, cycling and running, I have to go to three different sports stores to find what I need in order to compete. For me, this is an inconvenience so I’ve been on the lookout for a local sports shop that offers everything I need for my triathlon training.
I knew no such store existed in my town, but figured that there must be one close by. In my effort to scout out a triathlon shop, I typed the words “Triathlon Shops Long Island” into Google. The search returned some options for me, but that wasn’t enough. I wanted to see if these shops were reputable so I so I looked online at the following websites to see if there were any recent customer reviews:
- Google Places
- Bing Local
- Yahoo Local
All of these websites also have apps and customers rate local shops. So when I found several different triathlon shops in my local area, I felt at ease by the excellent ratings that these shops received by their current client base.
Three shops fit my criteria and I decided to go to all three to see what one worked best for my needs. What I loved most was the attention I received from the shop owners who were knowledgeable in the sport. I walked away with several items and felt satisfied that I made the right decisions.
There are millions of small businesses across the United States. Small businesses aid in our economy and also cater to individual needs. As the Internet becomes more prevalent for shopping, many of these local stores won’t be able to compete. I find that with my small business as well. We have overhead, a storefront and staffing expenses that many of these online shops don’t have.
But, if you want to look at the big picture, these local shops are keeping our economy healthy and keeping people employed. They also provide us with personal attention, like the attention I received from the triathlon shops; if you have a problem, they are more likely to take the product back and replace it; and they offer incentives to get the base to keep coming back. So why not support them.
There are plenty of small businesses that aren’t online and don’t for some reason or another believe in having a presence online. So how do you go about finding those stores?
What I do is I ask my friends on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for referrals for a hair salon, funky clothing shop or even a great nail salon. You would be amazed at how many responses you will get through these networking sites.
Any way you slice it, your customers are online and they are getting information about you online like it or not. Why not be proactive and put yourself where your customers are?