May 7, 2020



10 Ways You Can Support Small Businesses

10 Ways You Can Support Small Businesses


Small businesses are the backbone of our communities. They’re the ones that sponsor your kid’s t-ball teams, support high school field repairs, sponsor local charities, and donate in-kind to causes all year round.

As we get closer to lessened restrictions and resuming a life of “normalcy,” small businesses are going to need us more than ever. Our role as consumers will be vital for small businesses and their employees after nearly 2 months of being closed or operating on a restricted basis.

Here are 10 ways you can support small businesses after restrictions are lifted:

1. Do your Christmas Shopping early this year

We know it’s not quite Christmas in July, but check some people and things off your Christmas list a little early this year. Buy a gift card at the local salon, a new scarf and earrings at the local boutique, or a ski pass at the local hills.

2. Eat out more – and tip big

Hopefully you’ve been able to enjoy local takeout lately, but even after this COVID cloud lifts, restaurants will need your business. Be sure to get out and support your local restaurants, and, consider tipping more than usual. Most servers have been out of work, paychecks, and tips for nearly two months. Be as generous as you can.

3. Make it a point to shop local

Many small businesses do not have the infrastructure or financial cushion that large businesses have to fall back on in times like this. Let’s make it a point to do as much of our shopping, eating, and business local post-COVID.

4. Buy gift cards – then wait to use them

You’ve been hearing for months to buy gift cards as a way to help small businesses, and we agree!  It’s a great way to support small businesses through this crisis, but remember to wait a while to use those gift cards. When businesses re-open after their closures, they’re going to rely on cash and business coming in. If we all use gift cards in the month following their re-opening, it’ll be like another month of them being closed – negatively impacting their cash flow.

5. Continue paying for your subscriptions, memberships, or recurring gifts if you are able

Most subscription-based services have allowed you to place a hold on your account. If you’re in a situation where you’re financially able, consider continuing to pay (or donating back) the dues that you saved during the COVID shut down. For recurring gifts or sponsorship to your local non-profits and charities, the need for these dollars to continue their mission will be significant.

6. Engage and share business promos on social media

Even if you aren’t able to contribute to small businesses financially, you can still make a big impact!  Share, engage with, and be active on their social media pages. Sharing their content or promos has a bigger effect than you may know, exposing their message to hundreds of people who they may not have otherwise reached.

7. Encourage your employer to be mindful of small and local businesses

If your business is one of the lucky ones to be in “normal” operations during the COVID crisis, encourage your co-workers and employers to be mindful of how the organization can contribute to small businesses success. For instance, at Deerwood Bank’s 13 locations, we order takeout for our whole office every Friday from a local restaurant. It’s just one of the things our team is doing to support our local economy during this time.

8. Offer to help your small business friends

With the COVID closures, so many businesses are running on a skeleton crew. If you (or your teenagers) have time, offer to help your small business friends wherever they need it. Maybe they need help running orders out to cars? Maybe they could use someone to sit at the front desk while they work on production. Maybe they could use someone to deliver their products to customers? Just ask – we’re sure they’ll have ideas on how they could use (and appreciate) your help!

9. Offer your expertise

Do you have a talent that could help a small business or non-profit during these financially stressful times? Are you an accountant? Marketing expert? Spreadsheet wiz? Creative genius? Technical guru? Donate some of your time to help small businesses in your area of expertise – they will be SO grateful!

10. Vacation local this year

There are so many great Minnesota getaways, and probably a lot of places in Minnesota where you and your family have never explored or adventured!  This year, instead of leaving the state or country for your vacation, consider vacationing locally and putting those vacation dollars (and memories) back into our Minnesota economy. Here’s a great resource for planning your Minnesota trip (including day trips, iconic destinations, lodging recommendations and more!).

Supporting small businesses after COVID-19 will be just as important, if not more, than supporting them during the state closures. We have been given a clearer perspective into how vital small businesses are to our local economies, now let’s show them our support in a big way this summer and into the future! We truly believe we are #BetterTogether.

John Ohlin close up

John Ohlin

Office: 218.316.3505

John Ohlin is the President and CEO of Deerwood Bank. He has been with Deerwood since 2004 and is based out of the Baxter office. John graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a bachelor’s degree in finance. He then went on to graduate from the ABA Stonier Graduate School of Banking in 2007. In his spare time John enjoys travelling with his wife and playing golf at the nearest course.

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