The novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has been shutting doors and keeping us inside, changing our routines and lifestyles. This new reality keeps us distant from not only the people we love and care about, but also from our favorite bakeries, cafes, restaurants, gyms, and even swimming pools. The businesses that are part of our lives are struggling to survive, and their employees have begun to lose their jobs. COVID-19 affects not only the health of the infected but also the economy of our country and reshapes our future in a very unclear way.
Now, we are united by one wish: To get back to our normal lives.
One question that has been raised in the last few weeks is, “What will come after the pandemic?” There are many thoughts on this, but no exact predictions for our post-corona life. We, for sure, will defeat the virus – but will we ever go back to our normal lives? The present will change the future, and what was in the past will stay in the past. But can we affect the future? Certainly, we can.
Right now, we are all moving to a virtual world where we hold meetings, work remotely, share information, and order groceries online – so much so that the internet has become the hub of our current life. The problem that many businesses are facing is that not all of them can follow us into virtual reality.
You cannot swim using your laptop. You can work out with your personal trainer through a video call, but you cannot run on your gym’s treadmill in your kitchen. Nobody can clean your house through the internet, or give you a massage using a video call. Although the internet is a robust network, we cannot achieve everything online. And even when businesses like retail stores move to the online world, they cannot beat some well-established competitors. This means they need to shut down their businesses. But if you want to go back to your routine after the pandemic, you probably want these small businesses to survive.
If you are one of the lucky ones, who works from home and has successfully adjusted to the new reality, here are 5 ways for you to support your favorite businesses until you can get back to your day-to-day life after the pandemic.
1. Call-in/Pick Up Orders
Many of your favorite local restaurants have probably switched to take-out orders. We understand, visiting a restaurant is a whole other experience. It involves physically being at the place you like. But, at this time, ordering dinner for a pickup might help the business survive. If you still want to go there in the post-corona reality, try to support the restaurant today.
If you continue working from home, then ordering takeout will save you the time you’d spend on cooking and the money you spend will be worth it for your future and that of the business. If your significant other is far away from you, ask them out on a virtual dinner. Invite them to order dinner from their favorite local restaurant – then the two of you can enjoy your evening in each other’s company, eating the food you like.
If a restaurant you like offers delivery, another way to support it is to order food for delivery. Again, you can be creative with this. If you want to invite a friend for dinner while keeping your distance from them, order a meal for yourself and order a meal for your friend to be delivered to their address. Then, reach them through a video call from one of the available software applications, and chat while enjoying lunch from your favorite restaurant. An experience like this will cheer you both up, will be entertaining, will be a nice gesture from you, and will help your local restaurant survive this challenging time. If you sometimes invite friends for dinner at a restaurant, this is not much different – the circumstances are different, but you are doing the same thing and having an alternative experience! (It also might help others keep their job.)
2. Order Products from Small Businesses Online
You might say, “Yes, I’m ordering things online, and I don’t need a reminder to shop virtually.” But here is the thing: Chances are you are ordering from a giant online store that is convenient for you and has a two-day delivery option. But do you really want to help the online store that has over several billion dollars in yearly revenue?
The probability of massive online stores not surviving the pandemic is extremely low. But the chances of a local store in the neighborhood closing soon because of financial issues are very high. So, although you might already have an annual membership that includes free delivery, if you work from home and have enough income, consider paying an extra $5 for a delivery and order products from smaller businesses. If the small business you are looking for doesn’t have a website and you don’t think they sell their products online, call them. They might be using other platforms for selling products virtually.
3. Pay Now and Get the Product or Service Later
Unfortunately, you cannot order everything online. You cannot go to your favorite local gym virtually, and cannot get house cleaning services over the phone. But this doesn’t mean you cannot support these businesses. If you have enough financial resources, keep paying for the local gym (if it’s a small gym and not a chain of massive gyms across the nation) so they can keep paying their employees and won’t need to close permanently. They might even have vouchers you can buy for friends as gifts. Call the business and ask what are the ways you can support them. Maybe you can pay for cleaning services at a discount and then receive the service once the pandemic is over? Try to find ways to contribute to shaping your future.
Do you like a local pottery store across the street? Find out if they have a website. Maybe they have gift cards you can purchase. Because, in post-corona life, you will still have to buy gifts. This might be an excellent way to help local businesses in your city survive, and your friends can use the cards later.
A 63-year-old local florist in a small village in the country of Georgia was facing an issue. He planted flowers he was hoping to sell when the season came and flowers would start blooming. But the season came with surprises – he couldn’t sell the flowers anymore, due to COVID-19. He didn’t know how to keep his business and the flowers he planted alive. Luckily for him, someone local, who knew about his business, launched an online campaign. People started buying flowers even though they knew the florist, Kako, would never be able to deliver them across the country.
In less than a day, Kako sold all his flowers online. But because he couldn’t deliver them to the buyers, he decided to send the flowers on behalf of the Georgian citizens to doctors and health workers who keep fighting for the lives of the infected. As a result, the health workers felt appreciated, the florist will keep his business going, and people will be able to buy flowers from him next year.
Now, think about how you can help your favorite local florist, or a business you want to see, in the post-corona reality.
4. Interact with Businesses on Social Media
Supporting local businesses online using social media will not cost you a cent, but it will help them keep going. Many of the stores and companies had to close temporarily, probably because they couldn’t switch to selling and delivering services online. But most of them are hoping to continue operations after the outbreak. Many businesses are trying to keep in touch with customers using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and similar platforms. Some of the local galleries are offering masterclasses, Webinars, Q&A-s through Instagram, and Facebook live.
Engaging with online activities will help these businesses keep going, even if they don’t receive income from these encounters. Social media activity engagement will help spread the word about their company. Share the events with your friends, and share the videos they post to your page. Read the articles they write during the lockdown, watch the videos they shoot during the self-isolation, write to support them, and comment on their posts.
Remember, support doesn’t always involve your credit card, and keeping business owners motivated to keep going might help you in the future.
5. Write Reviews
Do you remember that day when you visited a local store and had an enjoyable experience, but you didn’t have time to write a review? Not reviewing business isn’t a crime and never has been. But reviews help companies get more clients. Unfortunately, most of us can’t find the time to invest in giving feedback. So, now that we are all isolated in our homes, it’s a great time to pull out our electronic devices (you already have one in your hand, because you are reading this article) and write some reviews.
You might think this doesn’t mean anything – these businesses are closed anyway, so who cares? But if we all start reviewing our favorite local spots, in the post-corona reality, they’ll get more clients and recover from the financial crisis sooner. Also, by giving positive feedback, you’ll let the business owners know that it’s worth it to keep fighting and keep the business going for their loyal customers.
These are just a few ways you can support local businesses during the current pandemic. We encourage you to reach out to local businesses and ask them what you can do to help support them. They may have an idea you never would have thought of by yourself, and you can feel great knowing you are supporting a local business, run by someone just like you.