A 2020 study found that 58% of Black-owned businesses were experiencing financial distress, and from February 2020 to April 2020, 41% of those businesses had to close their doors permanently. With increased awareness of social injustices taking place this past year coupled with the demand to stay home, patrons have become more aware of their shopping habits and creative in the ways they shop, relying heavily on digital platforms. We have compiled a few steps towards creating sustainable support for Black-owned businesses, while still upholding social distancing guidelines.
Do Your Research
The first step is to do online research! There are multitudes of resources and directories available that provide a comprehensive list of businesses that are owned by Black entrepreneurs both nationally and internationally. These digital resources give relevant information about each business, navigation to their site, and current offers. Use directories, such as Official Black Wall Street or EatOkra, to find exactly what you are shopping for, whether it’s food from a local restaurant or a shop in another state that offers online shopping options that can be delivered right to your door. These tools make it easier than ever to get great items while still practicing social distancing.
Become a Regular Buyer
Introducing products created or supplied by Black entrepreneurs into your daily routine is a great way to become a repeat buyer. Consider purchasing cleaning products and personal care items that you use regularly from Black-owned small businesses instead of the larger box stores. Or, get your morning coffee through curbside pick-up from a local diner instead of a chain. As entrepreneur Robert F. Smith states, “How do you drive sustainability in everything we do holistically?…We have to be intentional about it, thoughtful about it, and then be deliberate about driving specific actions to make those changes.” These small adjustments to your routine can make a positive impact not only on your community as a whole but the small business owners who work to create great competitive products in your area. Be sure to order directly from an establishment versus a third-party vendor as well to ensure the money goes directly to the owner and can be recycled back into the business, instead of a major corporation.
Digital applications are becoming one of the most viable ways for customers to find Black-owned businesses both in their area and on a global scale. These applications, which can be downloaded straight to your smartphone, make it easy to access information and purchase items for sale no matter where you are at a given time. Some offer alerts that tell you when you are near a Black-owned establishment, so you can visit in person. If you are sticking close to home these days, you can also use these apps as a way to order online or leave a review on sites like Yelp to increase a business’s exposure! Here are a few applications devoted to the support of Black-owned businesses with their description included to get you started.
Contribute a Donation
Contributing a donation to a small business can make a major difference, so don’t hesitate to reach out to a business owner who you feel could benefit from one! Get in touch with the owner directly and see if there is any way to electronically contribute through secure applications like PayPal. Consider setting up a monthly contribution if your personal budget allows you to further grow and support a local black-owned business you love. You can also look into other ways to offer support, like donating to organizations that highlight and focus efforts on aiding Black entrepreneurs, especially during these uncertain times. Refer to directories like Support Black Owned for ways to donate!
Become a Partner
If you are a small business owner yourself, consider partnering with Black-owned businesses in your area to bring more awareness to their offerings amongst your customers. Cross-promotion is a great way to highlight each other’s products or consider doing a collaborative event online through video platforms like Zoom. Service swaps are also a viable way to help each business with different aspects of their service strategy. Overall, becoming a partner is a great way to build stronger connections and create a support network that benefits both your small business and others in your community. As writer Terry Tempest Williams once said, “Imagination shared creates collaboration, and collaboration creates community, and community inspires social change.” All of these options can bring relief to black-owned businesses you love and can all be done while working remotely or remaining socially distanced.
Share on Social Platforms
Social platforms are one of the best ways to promote and share information surrounding Black-owned businesses, and can be used right from your couch! A recent report conducted in July 2020 shows a 7,043% increase in online searches for Black-owned businesses within a year. This is estimated to 2,500,000 total searches, up from 35,000 in May 2019. Platforms like Instagram or Facebook have been major contributors to increased online searches and are great for sharing recent purchases and helpful information about Black-owned businesses. You can also like, follow, tag, comment on, and share a business’s social page to easily bring them more recognition amongst your followers and give their page a boost within the ever-changing social media algorithm. By tagging and promoting their page regularly, you ensure their content is recognized and visible to a wider audience’s homepage feed. Share directories, resources, and your experience with friends and family as well to organically spread the word about businesses you love and further grow awareness of black-owned businesses in your community.
This year created some barriers to accessing local businesses, and has especially impacted Black entrepreneurs. This makes it more crucial than ever to find new and creative ways to shop and promote black-owned businesses both close to home and on a global scale. We hope these tips will help you do just that and take the necessary steps to offer your support from the comfort of your own home.
Images by Create Her Stock