Evanston Police Officer Tosha Wilson had a steady job and a good credit score but could not get a startup loan for her proposed Black-owned business.
This brought about an epiphany: “There is no way that we’re the only people in this situation.”
So, she started helping small Black-owned businesses raise money via a Facebook Group called Boosting Black Business, which chooses a new local business every month to fund.
Wilson asks members to commit to donating $20 a month.
First there was, Chi Fresh, a West Side food co-op, which received $22,000, Wilson said.
In August, the group raised a similar amount for the business she and her partner created: The Laundry Café.
“You come there and you kind of just reinvent yourself while doing laundry,” she said. “I mean, it seems so weird but it’s something we have to do every day, and you spend an average of two hours in the laundromat. Why not find something to get into that heals the soul? I think as a country we need a whole lot of healing.”
This month’s business is Rose Café, an effort by elementary school teachers who are trying to open a book store in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood.
As I continue to watch the world shift around me, my goal remains the same, to leverage the power of the black economy to create sustainable change. In order to do this we must work collectively and support each other’s businesses consistently on a large scale. Going out and buying products and goods from every black business in your area may not be feasible, but there are a number of other ways to support small black-owned businesses. With a bit of creativity and time, you can aid in the growth of the businesses around you.
Here are 6 easy ways to support small businesses
1. Write A Review
Online reviews have more power than you think. Hundreds of people turn to the internet to make their decision on what businesses to support. People like to read about the cleanliness of a restaurant or the quality of a good being sold at a small market. Writing a positive review may result in one more customer walking through the doors of your favorite local eatery. All you have to do is hope on an app like At Main Street, a great app for reviewing local businesses, and write a couple sentences about your favorite places to eat locally. It may not seem like it, but your review will make a huge impact on the longevity of the businesses you love.
2. Follow them on social media
In the digital age, followers are a big deal. The number of followers a business has on instagram can determine whether potential customers will even consider visiting them. People like to see that businesses have a large following because it gives them confidence that the product or service is valuable. Following a business on social media also gives the owners another opportunity to track their reach and better understand their clientele.
3. Engage on social media
Following your favorite businesses is a good first step but you can further boost your impact by interacting with their social media. You can boost their visibility by commenting on their posts, liking, and subscribing. By engaging with their social media pages your personal followers will become exposed to the business, hopefully leading them to becoming customers themselves.
4. Word of Mouth
Word of mouth is old school marketing that will never die. Your friends and family trust your opinion. Sharing the positive experience you had at a restaurant may inspire them to go in and try it out for themselves. In many cases, the people you’re close to want to support the things that you care about and using your words and opinion to speak highly of a product or service is just what a small business needs.
5. Sign up for Newsletter
Weekly newsletters are one of the best ways a business can share new deals, products, and services. Signing up for newsletters will keep you in the loop about sales and keep you connected to everything going on at your favorite local businesses. When your favorite business sees that they have people subscribing to their newsletter, it can give them the boost of confidence they need to continue creating engaging emails and it legitimizes their efforts.
6. Offer your services
No matter what the prevailing viewpoints, the truth remains that we were put on this earth to be of service to others. Think about it, no matter what line of business you are in, you are serving someone or something. Are you a digital designer, social media marketer or business manager? Offer your services to one of your favorite local businesses at a discounted price or volunteer your services if you think they could use your help. Offering your gifts, whatever they may be, can take stress off the business and help create a lasting relationship between you and them. When you connect in this way, you are taking an extra step in not only supporting their business but you are also reaching the larger goal of connecting the black economy.
It doesn’t take a lot to show your support. Start where you are with the resources you have and go from there. Your continued support will not go unnoticed. If you really want to support local businesses, I can give you the tools to help. On your way out, check out At Main Street and BCDAlliance.