The effects of a thriving small business sector are undeniable. Though the COVID-19 pandemic challenged the small business sector in various ways, one study from the U.S. Small Business Administration conducted prior to the pandemic found that small businesses account for 44 percent of economic activity in the United States. A post-pandemic return to normal could help small businesses regain that influence, especially if such establishments work together.
A recent study from Red Egg Marketing found that 82 percent of consumers indicate they would spend more to support small businesses after the pandemic. That support should go a long way toward aiding the recovery of small, locally owned businesses. But such establishments can do themselves a favor by finding ways to work together. Such collaborations can be a great way for local companies to connect with new customers while also supporting fellow small businesses. The following are a handful of ways local businesses can work together as they recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.
• Consider cross-promotional events. Cross-promotion is a marketing endeavor in which two or more businesses work together to promote a service or product. For example, a local brewery may partner with a local restaurant to showcase a new beer release and a special menu item that pairs well with that particular beer. These types of promotions shed light on what each business can offer, and many consumers would be happy to learn they’re supporting at least two local businesses at the same time.
• Change suppliers. Many partnership opportunities can be effective even if they’re less public in nature. Global supply chains were in flux during the pandemic and have yet to return to normal. That makes now a great time for local businesses to reconsider their suppliers. When doing so, look into local suppliers and let it be known that your products are locally sourced. For example, local restaurant owners can highlight the fact that their foods are sourced from local farms and manufacturers. That may impress foodies with a fondness for freshness, and also should reassure customers who want to keep as many of their dollars in the local community as possible.
• Form a local business network. When one business on Main Street is thriving, others tend to follow suit. That’s especially true when businesses network in the hopes of creating a bustling local shopping district. Local business owners can organize a network via social media or in person communication. Encourage business owners to share what worked, and didn’t work, as they built their businesses. Local networks also can be a great forum to plan and pitch community-based events like festivals, holiday bazaars and other functions designed to bring more consumers to Main Street.
Rebuilding after the pandemic poses some unique challenges to small business owners. Working together can be an effective way to overcome those challenges.