It’s become more commonplace than ever to support businesses owned by women, people of colour, and small businesses in general. But how do we do this in a way that is effective and allows for actual growth? Especially in the case of our loved ones who are entrepreneurs, it feels important to support them in the right way and make an impact where we can.
Is it enough to give them a shout-out on social media? Or should you be giving them your time or money in some way? It’s difficult to know exactly what every female entrepreneur would find the most helpful, especially depending on the kind of industry that they’ve decided to stake their claim in. Regardless, there are a few things all of us can do to boost female entrepreneurs and keep small businesses alive and well.
Leave honest, positive reviews
If you’ve ever been on the business side of things, you probably know how important reviews can be for helping smaller companies keep their heads above water. That means, especially if you’ve had a great experience with a small business a woman happens to own, it won’t hurt to give them a review if they ask for one. You can even intentionally search for ways to leave these reviews if you wish.
“Leaving good reviews is so important,” says Rachel Roff, the Founder and CEO of Urban Skin Rx. “I’m not asking anyone to be dishonest and leave a good review, even if you’ve never been to the brick-and-mortar location before. I’m just saying that a positive review can really make a big difference in that business owner’s life, and you give one out will be highly appreciated. That’s a promise.”
Some great places to try leaving reviews to include Yelp, Google Business, and even social media posts. And, of course, fill out a survey if you’re offered one.
Look for women-owned businesses first
The next time you need something new, whether you’re interested in increasing your at-home stock or you need a replacement for something at the house, try looking to see if there are any women-owned businesses around you offering what you need. It may seem like a big extra step, especially if you’re very close to a big box store already, but it means a lot to those small business owners.
“Every time you make a purchase, you’re voting with your dollar,” explains Adelle Archer, the CEO and Co-Founder of Eterneva. “That means choosing to buy from the family-owned business down the street shows the economy that you want to support the less popular chains. Regardless of the reason, this reduces the likelihood that those big box stores are going to run that small business out of town.”
This is also a great way of asking for variety in your town or part of the city. Instead of encouraging monopolies or padding billionaires with even more cash, you’re putting money where it’s much more likely to be needed. Even if it costs slightly more to shop at a small business, it makes that small business significantly more likely to stick around.
Give help if you’re asked
If you know any women who own small businesses personally, it might not hurt to reach out and offer a helping hand. Especially if she’s still running her company like a start-up, that entrepreneur could probably use a little bit of extra help around the office space. You might be a runner for the day, do a little bit of data entry for free, and do a plethora of other simple tasks as a result.
“This won’t be very common, but if a small business owner asks you for help, they mean it,” exclaims the CEO of Glamnetic, Ann McFerran. “If a few more people had offered me help in the earliest stages of my work, I would have had a much easier time and a lot more success early on.”
While some women will probably be alright with you offering help, others may reject the offer out of pride. Regardless, an offer of help will frequently be met with gratitude.
Social media is an incredibly powerful tool, and it’s growing stronger with each passing day. Because this is the case, it’s not a bad idea to shout out a few of your favourite small businesses online for all of your friends to see. Not only does this give the woman-owned business more visibility, but she might also get a few more customers she wouldn’t have had otherwise.
According to Theresia Le Battistini, the CEO and Founder of Fashion League, “Sharing on social media is key. If they have a page, tag them. If they have a hashtag, include it in the post. Social media makes it possible for so many businesses to grow wildly, and it’s so so appreciated.”
Tell her ‘you’ve got this’
In the case that a woman business owner in your life is beginning to question her abilities, don’t let her back down without a bit of a fight. Oftentimes, a little bit of encouragement to keep going is all that she needs, and you can be one of the forces that urges her forward in her work. When things get difficult on the road, give her a little gas to reach the next station so she can keep going.
Trish Bertuzzi, the CEO of The Bridge Group Inc., says, “Lean in, speak out, have a voice in your organization, and never use the word, ‘sorry’.” You don’t need to apologize for taking up space with your new business, and you’re allowed to make a difference in the world.
Additionally, Marissa Mayer gives another iteration of this belief. The CEO of Yahoo! Inc. explains, “If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking a risk, really amazing things can happen.” Anyone is going to be more likely to back out of a challenge if they’re at a key turning point and have intense feelings of fear.
If you’re looking to support a woman entrepreneur, make sure that she stays on her correct path and encourage her to keep going. Tell her how much you believe in her and she just might keep going. When she starts to stop believing in herself, she could probably use your help to start believing in her ability and vision again.
Ellen Diamond, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.