The holiday shopping season is fast approaching, and for many small businesses, what they bring in during this time of year can help decide if they are a financial success or not. Many people understand this, and they want to support their local businesses, but wonder about what they can really do, especially in times when their own economic situation may not allow for too much discretionary spending.

Don’t worry. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, there are still ways that you can help support a local small business and help them keep their doors open for a brighter future.

Small Business Helper Tip #1:  Share on Social Media

While you might not have enough discretionary spending to buy that handmade teddy bear in the window, chances are a friend on social media might. When you see something from your local business that you know your friend will love, don’t be afraid to hit the share button or send an email to your friend about it. Not only will you be helping your friend find a great gift, but you’ll also be helping the business find another potential customer.

Small Business Helper Tip #2: Help Make Business Resources More Available — and Known About

Often one of the biggest struggles for small businesses is the lack of resources from their community. The real tragedy is that often the resources are there — just not readily known about. When you have the opportunity, see about talking with your town or local community about developing the resources that the small businesses may need. Things such as low-cost accounting or tax services,  free or reduced on-street parking or even low-cost advertisements in websites or newspapers can go a long way to help a local shop reach the customers that they need.  Plus it’s a fantastic way to help build a stronger community.

store-832188_1920Small Business Helper Tip # 3: Make Introductions and Connections

As any small business owner will tell you, in order to make a sale, you need to make a connection. In order to do that, a potential customer or client needs to know about you, and they need to contact your business. As a friend or a potential customer, you can help a small business do just that, simply by taking the time to make an introduction or two. Know about a new nail salon, and feel like giving it a try? Why not gather together a few friends from church and arrange for a nail-painting party? If you contact the salon ahead of time, they may be willing to give you a discount for bringing in so many customers. Who knows? It doesn’t hurt to ask!

Small Business Helper Tip # 4: Make a Purchase — Even a Small One — With a Smile

So many people choose to walk by a local business and not give them a chance because they are afraid of being disappointed, or worse. But in reality, what do you have to lose by opening the door to your local shop and taking a look around? Or even in buying a small little thing, or enjoying a slice of apple pie at the local diner? The truth is, not that much. You may waste a few dollars, or have a piece of a pie that doesn’t quite meet your grandmother’s standards.

But trust me when I say this. Your smile, the few dollars you plunk down on the counter and the small bit of conversation that you have with the business owner means the world to them. You see, so many small business owners start with a vision and a dream, and they fight every day — sometimes alone — to make that dream come true. Every day they get up, start again, and never give in, even when everything and everyone around them is telling them to just give up. Your purchase, however small, can be just the encouragement they need to help them to continue to fight for their dreams.

So what other ways will you try and support the local businesses in your area?