Think and Act Differently to Support Small Businesses

In the United States, the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday is likely to be different than it has been in the past. Many families won’t be getting together in person. Countless family traditions will be suspended or adapted to cope with pandemic life.

Aunt Lucy won’t be making her famous mashed potatoes this year because she’s staying home. And instead of traveling over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house, you may break bread virtually thanks to Webex videoconferencing.

Sure many things will be different, but amid all the uncertainty, here’s a silver lining to consider. This Thanksgiving may be the one everyone remembers because it wasn’t the same as every other year.

Thank small businesses by supporting them

Thanksgiving is all about gratitude. Along with my own personal gratitude list that includes appreciation for my family and my health, I’m also grateful for all the small businesses out there that are continuing to do what they do.

Running a small business is hard. But running a small business in the middle of a global pandemic and continually morphing economic chaos is several orders of magnitude more difficult.

That’s why after Thanksgiving when your thoughts turn to holiday shopping, I encourage you to support small businesses on #SmallBusinessSaturday, which is this coming Saturday November 28. Deep in the midst of the recession in 2010, American Express created the event to encourage people to bring more of their holiday shopping to small businesses.

Like Thanksgiving, this year’s Small Business Saturday may look a little different, but the gifts you find may be more memorable.

Virtual support is still support

Whether you realize it or not, countless small businesses in your local area are innovating and using technology to help them remain a vital part of your community. Here at Cisco, we’ve been up close with the many ways small businesses and organizations have adapted to the “new normal.” Small businesses have:

Small Business SaturdayMany people go online to shop for holiday goods. I encourage you to spend an extra few minutes surfing to find opportunities to support your local small businesses. These organizations are run by your neighbors and they form the backbone of almost every community.

If you look around, you’ll see ways you can put your money where it can benefit the businesses in your area. For example, I’m supporting a local family farm by buying produce directly from the farmer through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Here are a few more ideas for supporting small businesses that are both easy and safe.

  1. Order online and take advantage of curbside service. Many retailers are adding wireless networks and cameras with video and presence analytics, so they know when you arrive.
  2. Get take out from your favorite restaurant. Instead of eating in, grab and go. Many restaurants let you order online and can set up delivery to your house.
  3. Give someone a class. Many tutors, music teachers, yoga instructors and other educators are offering their services online.
  4. Give services. Can’t find just the right t-shirt or print for that special someone? Commission an original design from a local artist or graphic designer. Have a friend who can’t get their network set up right? Give the gift of technology expertise.
  5. Think beyond the obvious. There are a lot more small businesses near you than you might think. For example, many local artisans sell on sites like Etsy, and many independent authors sell books on Amazon. (I doubt any of my neighbors know I’m a novelist!)
  6. Ask. Visit local small business websites or simply call and ask what you can do to patronize their business. If you have a local business you love, find out what they’re doing to adapt and how you can support them.
  7. Make a donation in someone’s name. Non-profits like Second Harvest of Silicon Valley have increased their virtual fundraising options, and the holidays are a great time to support them.

Join the party!

Every little bit helps, and I hope you’ll make it a point to support small businesses this Saturday. If you’re on Twitter, join the conversation by tagging your favorite small business and sharing why you love them. Be sure to use #SmallBusinessSaturday and #CiscoDesigned.

For more information on how Cisco is helping, check out the replay of our Cisco Chat about small business resiliency in retail and visit our Cisco Designed small business solutions page.

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