5 Ways to Support Your Friend’s Business (Without Paying a Dime)
Running a small business has always been stressful. But today, the stresses, frustrations and risks are especially great, considering the amount of competition business owners face not just locally, but nationally and even internationally, thanks to the rise of the online marketplace. Many small businesses have added headaches, like keeping up with technology, adjusting inventory or services to evolving demands, managing employees or juggling the business all on their own.
As a friend of a small business owner, you want to do all you can to be supportive so you can play a part in helping your friend succeed. Still, not all of us can afford to spend our own hard-earned cash to keep someone in business, even if they are a friend. What’s more, maybe the product or service that’s being offered just isn’t something you genuinely need. The good news is, you can still be supportive and help your friend succeed without spending a cent. Here are five ways to show your support, starting today.
1. Spread the word when you’re networking
Even though you may not need the products or services your friend is offering, other people do. Word-of-mouth referrals are really effective in helping businesses attract clients, especially since potential customers tend to view personal recommendations as being a lot more trustworthy than some other forms of marketing, like advertisements or anonymous online reviews. And don’t restrict your networking efforts to business settings, either. Whether you’re at a social gathering, chatting with colleagues at work, or in another casual setting, it’s perfectly okay to give your friend’s business a shout-out for someone who’s in the market.
2. Tap into social media
In-person referrals are really effective, but they’re also limited by the number of people you see on a daily basis. With social media, you can spread the word far and wide throughout a much larger network of people who know and trust you. If your friend has a social media page for her business, take a moment to leave a review or engage with their content. Not a great wordsmith? Shares and likes help improve their rankings and their visibility to others. Use your own accounts to share a little love when you can, too.
3. Visit their website
Most businesses have websites that they use not only to showcase their products or services, but to attract potential customers as well. If your friend has a website, take some time to read their blog and leave positive comments. Just be sure not to leave too quickly (a practice called “bouncing”), since that can actually have a negative impact on the site’s rankings. Instead, explore the site thoughtfully and spend some time on each page. That kind of interaction can go a long way toward improving their rankings during searches.
4. Offer to help in other ways
Maybe your friend is overwhelmed right now and could use an extra set of hands to help pack or ship items during a really busy season. Or maybe they need some help researching new suppliers or even new markets to tap. Maybe they just need a fresh set of eyes on a new website or blog post. If you’ve got a few extra hours to pitch in, your help could make a huge difference — not only in the business’s operations, but in your friend’s peace of mind, as well.
5. Just be there as a friend
Life can be stressful. Now imagine running a business on top of all that daily stress. It’s easy to see how a little “friend time” can make a big difference to someone who’s feeling kind of burned out. Just letting your friend know you’re there — for a cup of coffee, a spa treatment or just to chat on the phone or online — can be all it takes to help them through a really rough time. And it’s a great way to forge those strong bonds of friendship that can help you feel more connected, too.
Most of us make resolutions to improve our own lives during the new year. This year, make supporting your friend (and their business) a priority, too. Good friendships are always worth nurturing, and when it comes to supporting your friend’s small business, you don’t need to upset your own budget. All it takes is an investment of time.