It’s almost over. Small Business Week will end tomorrow and with it, many of the promotions and much of the hype. The conference will be over, the Twitter feeds will fade away. Back to business as usual.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Before the week ends, lets look at some long-term commitments we can all make to keep small businesses in our communities, employing our neighbors, and creating the character, ambiance and j’e ne sais quoi that define where we live and why we live there.
This is the guy on the corner selling flowers or maybe the dry cleaner who knows just how you like your shirts done; the boutique whose owner calls when something you might like comes in or supplier who figures out a way to make exactly the widget you need for your production line.
Let’s not end our support for them at close of business tomorrow.
First and foremost, let’s keep buying from small businesses. That means at the retail level and at the wholesale level. It means when you order order your wedding invitations or when you order your business cards.
This buy-locally, support-small-business mantra applies to nonprofits, too, which also order supplies and use services. Support the businesses in the communities you serve and who serve you by donating money and in-kind services, and volunteering.
Second, support those who support small businesses, whether it’s the City of New York underwriting the training and mentoring of entrepreneurs through the FastTrac program or Goldman Sachs for its 10,000 Small Businesses Program.
Or build an ongoing support program, such as American Express OPEN has done with its Small Business Saturday program.
It may also take a little politicking. How about letting your representatives in Congress know how much you support the Start-up America Partnership or how much you hope Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke lives up to his commitment to loosen the purse strings when it comes to small business loans.
And maybe even a little letter-writing about the unethical practice of some corporations to withhold payment to small businesses.
And small businesses, help yourselves. Join a local business network, such as BALLE. Help out at the community fair in whatever way you can. Successful entrepreneurs who started small and are now successful have an interesting characteristic in common: They give more to their communities.
As you see, I’ve cared about small businesses and those who support them for a long time. I’d like the momentum to build, not just for a week, but for the long term.
What can you do to support, advise, or partner with a small business? Do you try to find local, small business options when you shop?