Since I started Hattie Rex in 2007, I've seen Hattie Rex move from a hobby to a side hustle to my full-time job, and finally to my stepping stone to a consulting business to help other small businesses grow. I've been a small business owner for a third of my life. To say that small business is a part of my life is an understatement. It's who I am.
So when the one day a year that celebrates small business rolls around, it makes me pause. Small business is so much of who I am, of what my life is, that I don't often think about it from an outsider's point of view.
In fact, here in Bozeman, there are so many small businesses that we forget that the rest of the country doesn't share this demographic. This town truly is the place where dreams come true.
And when I think about Small Business Saturday, it feels fitting that it's during the Thanksgiving season. Because without the support of our customers, we small business owners would not have the honor of having that title. GRATITUDE does not even begin to cover that feeling of feeling so lucky and so blessed to live the life that we get to live, all because of our customers, who like what we're doing enough to support it.
And I think of the tribe of small business owners in this community and across the globe who help each other out. I used to feel lonely as an entrepreneur, but then I learned to speak up and to ask for help and I wish I had done it years ago.
Now, more than ever, it's imperative that we all support small businesses. It supports our local economies. It creates jobs. It helps dreams come true. And you have a better, more unique shopping experience.
When you buy from a Small Business, you're not just helping one business -- you're helping the community. Hattie Rex donates to and supports dozens of non-profits each year and all of my business friends and neighbors do the same thing. Small businesses are helping to fund animal shelters, women's shelters, suicide prevention lines, mentorship and opportunities for at-risk youth, veterans' programs, animal rehabilitation centers, and more. We serve on boards, we donate to fundraisers, we volunteer our time. And without small business supporters, none of that would be possible.
Small Business Saturday is one day to show your support of the businesses in your area that give it vibrancy and culture.
Since we are small businesses every other day of the year, too, here are 4 easy ways that you can support small businesses -- without even spending a dime (although we love it when you do that, too):
1. Come see us. Attend our events and visit our stores! Sure, you might be tempted to buy something, but even if you don't, coming in to see what we have to offer provides so much value for us. First, it keeps us from being lonely and wallowing in self-doubt. Second, it gives us an opportunity to interact with you, to see what you're interested in or what you're looking for, or who you're shopping for, to help us make better decisions about what products or services we should offer. It creates a connection within the community. And lastly, we get the opportunity to show off what we're doing, and maybe, just maybe, you will....
2. Tell your friends and family about us. Even though we've been in our location for five years now, the majority of the Bozeman population probably doesn't know what (or who) Hattie Rex is. And even if they do, they might not know that we've remodeled or that we have expanded our product offerings and now offer self-care items, gifts for babies and kids, added a Beard and Body line for men, and rounded out our dog tag offering with toys, bowls, and even cat toys.
The same goes for other businesses. Tell your friends about the great store you saw downtown or online. Someone's looking for a great meat thermometer? Send them to your local gourmet kitchen store for a special gift that was handpicked by the owner. You overhear that family's coming to town and they're looking for somewhere to take them? Send them to your favorite stores for a unique shopping experience.
Most small businesses rely on word-of-mouth to get people in the doors. Spreading the word helps us reach more people! If you enjoy the products or service, please tell a friend.
3. Write a review. 84% of people trust online reviews as much as friends and family recommendations. That means that you can support your favorite small businesses just by spending a few minutes to give them 5 stars on Google. Bonus points for adding specifics (like great waffles, best pet ID tags, beautiful wedding bouquet). Google picks up on frequently used words in Google reviews and uses it to provide more accurate search matches, which means your review can help that small business find more customers!
Side note: In my consulting business, Lightbox, I help small business owners harness the power of Google's free tools to help grow local businesses. For more tips like this, join my email list).
4. Post about it. Social media is a huge opportunity for small businesses to find new customers and stay engaged with current ones. You can help by snapping a photo of your trip to the store, or of you using the product that you purchased and mentioning (and tagging) the store or business where you bought it.
Alternatively, commenting on our posts, sharing them with your audience, or tagging a friend can help a small business's post get boosted in the algorithm. Unfortunately, just hitting the "like" button doesn't give us any boosts (other than to our egos), so taking the time to type a comment is the ticket.
That's it! 4 simple things that you can do today that help small businesses -- without reaching into your wallet.
On behalf of my team and my tribe of small business owner friends and neighbors, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for helping our dreams come true every day. And in return for your support, we collectively promise to do our very best to continue to be worthy of your support, referrals, reviews, and posts.