10 things you can do to support women-owned businesses right now

women-owned businesses

Women-owned businesses need our support. Now.

You know that coffee shop you love and that funky little clothing store that always has amazing finds? Say goodbye: COVID is putting them out of business in record numbers.

Over 100,000 businesses have closed their doors this year…and the majority are owned by women. According to the US Chamber of Commerce, the pandemic is disproportionately affecting female-owned small businesses because women are more likely to own establishments like restaurants, salons and retail shops, that depend on foot traffic. 

Female-owned businesses have had to lay off staff in much higher numbers than those owned by men, with a gap in staff growth of 23%. And women have reduced access to capital, which makes staying afloat that much harder. They’re forced to do more with less money and fewer people. 

And let’s not forget all the additional things women (and especially moms) are carrying on their shoulders right now, balancing work and childcare, especially in school districts that are operating virtually at least part of the time. 

These hard-working women need our help. 

Spending our money at local, women-owned businesses could mean the difference between them surviving COVID or closing their doors for good. Here’s a list of ways you can help keep women’s businesses going, through COVID and beyond. 

Local and Online Woman Owned Businesses

7 tips for strategic spending

  1. Prioritize women-owned businesses. Make an effort to support smaller businesses over big box stores and mega online retailers. It might be more of an effort, but it’s a worthwhile one. A quick Google search of your area will give you lots of ideas to choose from. Here’s a great example from Cleveland, another one from NYC., and a list of businesses you can support from anywhere. 
  2. Order in. If your favorite sit-down restaurant isn’t offering on-site dining, ordering takeout from them can help keep them afloat. Pick it up yourself, or if the restaurant delivers directly, consider going through them instead of a delivery service, which takes a cut of their profits. 
  3. Consider curbside pickup. There are lots of small businesses that only sell in their physical location, and now that people are spending more time at home, these unique, browsable little spots are suffering. If you’re not comfortable going into a store, or if stores are closed in your area, call them to see what they have. Some are even offering virtual shopping experiences where you can “browse” with the help of a staff member. See if they’ll deliver or offer curbside pickup to reduce contact. 
  4. Buy gift certificates to use later. It boosts vital cash flow now, when they need it most. And you can enjoy the meal, haircut, massage or shopping trip later, when things have opened up. 
  5. Book an online class or virtual experience. Whether it’s a yoga class, a baking tutorial or a crafting session, your purchase will support a service business that can’t offer in-person services or is operating at reduced capacity right now. 
  6. Check out Etsy. 83% of Etsy vendors identify as women, 66% consider their shops as businesses, and 29% are pursuing their creative business as their sole occupation. The site is a wonderful resource for everything from unique handmade goods to vintage items, sold primarily by individuals and small businesses. You can shop local by searching the site for items in your area, or take your support global: Etsy sellers come from all over the world. 
  7. Be patient with slower shipping. The big online retailers have gotten us used to overnight or even same-day delivery. Small businesses aren’t usually equipped to do that, so make an effort to seek out women-owned shops that are selling online, and factor in a longer wait to get your items. Your patience will make a big difference to a small retailer. 

3 ways you can help for FREE

  1. Follow businesses on Instagram and Facebook: when you like, share or comment on their posts, it spreads the word about their business and makes them feel seen and supported…something they all need right now. 
  2. Use hashtags. Send a shout out your favorite retailer with hashtags like #shoplocalboston or #womenownedbusiness (see what’s being used in your area) so people can find them easily when they’re searching those hashtags. 
  3. Leave thoughtful reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. Share your good experiences with others and tell them why a particular business is really great. If you’ve had a not-so-great experience, consider holding off on posting a negative review: a lot of businesses are understaffed and struggling right now, and a bad review, even if it’s warranted, could make things even worse. 

There’s something satisfying in knowing you’re helping support a small business run by a hardworking woman. And while it may not be realistic to buy everything from these small shops and services, even focusing a fraction of your spending there will make a difference – one you’ll appreciate once the pandemic is over and these unique small businesses are still around. 

We help women develop their business and gigs. It might be tough for small businesses out there right now, but the pandemic won’t last forever. If you’ve been thinking about taking the leap into entrepreneurship, freelancing or consulting, sign up for our newsletter to access your free guide to the Gig Economy. You will also receive notification of our free programs offering real-world information on leveling up your skills.

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