As you may or may not know, my husband and I own two small businesses along with our full-time jobs. They were created out of our excitement for history, writing, and reptiles. Until this past weekend, they were something we were really passionate about. But this weekend was our ‘oh shit’ moment that no business owner wants to experience.
We are losing money faster than I can spend $400.00 at Wal-Mart for a week’s worth of groceries.
And in this current economic climate, losing money is not the most desirable option for anyone. It’s caused so much stress that I am beginning to believe that my migraine is now an annoying BFF that is not going to go away. The peaceful baths that I used to take are now just a few moments to think about everything that I need to do. Sleep has become a distant memory. I have lost my mojo to write or create anything for social media.
The great expectations that we had are becoming a nightmare.
And it really is no one’s fault. It’s just that people don’t have the money to spend. And we wouldn’t want them to spend money on something they couldn’t afford. It does mean that we need to pinch our pennies to survive this downhill turn, which is becoming increasingly challenging when I am paying almost $250.00 a week in gas for both of us just to be able to get to work. I used to spend $170.00 a week on groceries, and now it’s $300.00 at Walmart for the off-brands.
What the hell happened?
So, two nights ago, I revamped my business plan in hopes to promote our two small businesses in a better way. Making reels, designing videos, creating exciting social media posts, tagging other small businesses…
But there lies the main issue. In order to stay relevant as small business owners, we need to spend money in hopes to make money. Promotions, websites, products, advertising… all this comes with a cost and a very small return on our investments if we don’t do it right. And then we have to contend with big businesses who have the money to spend but also keep a tight belt on their own costs.
So, what are we supposed to do?
I don’t know friends. I really am lost for words. My husband and I both agree that we don’t want to give up…. but have you ever seen how much it costs to start a business? States love to promote ‘support small businesses and then tax us until we are at a loss.
It’s all very frustrating right now.
Couple this with the fact that it’s been raining for over a week and I haven’t been able to ride my motorcycle. The motorcycle I bought to save on gas. So now, I still pay for gas and my Harley.
This weekend I attended a lovely art festival in my area. It was wonderfully put together, with lots of wonderful things to look at, delicious popcorn, and even live music and dancing. These artists were amazing! I was in awe! I wanted to support most of them, but I had to be picky about what I could buy and what was too expensive. It was horrible because my son is an artist and I am a writer. We know what it means to spend a whole weekend outside in the elements, and hope someone wants to buy something we created.
It’s not easy following your dream. So, what can you do to support a small business?
Review, review, review!
If you have had a positive experience with a company, leave a review. Even if it is just clicking on the stars. It generates more business than you know. For books on Amazon, they don’t start ‘recommending’ your book until you have at least 25 reviews. If you know an artist, post a picture of their work in your home and tag them with a link to their website. 5 minutes of your day can mean the difference between profit or loss for most businesses.
Challenge: Did you just buy something? Sustainable coffee or a new book? Did you purchase something unique from Amazon? Take a moment to write a review today.
Sign up for the newsletters.
I know you probably don’t read newsletters…but you really should. Sometimes there are dazzling deals, cool facts, or links to other small businesses you didn’t know about.
Challenge: Do you have a blogger or author you like? Sign up for their newsletter. And when you have a dull moment at work, read it. Every ‘open’ for a newsletter is tracked and helps promote that small business through the algorithm.
Follow on social media.
Most of us are on social media for at least an hour a day. For small businesses, a large following helps us compete with major businesses with marketing budgets. We rely on word of mouth and social media to promote our work, which makes us a small fish swimming next to the Krakens. Did you know that most businesses, like Amazon, Target, and Barnes and Noble, only work with artists with ‘established’ accounts? As an author, most publishing companies won’t even look at our books until we can prove we have over 1,000 followers on EVERY SINGLE media platform.
Challenge: Interact with one social media post and share it with your friends. Out of your 500 friends and family members… there may be 1 or 2 people that would enjoy the same product, and they may buy.
Go to the festivals, conventions, and block parties.
This is where most small businesses do most sales. I understand that most people don’t want to deal with the crowds, parking, and pressure of venturing into the public… but when was the last time you did? In northern Washington, we recently celebrated the annual Tulip Festival. We had a month full of fairs, parades, and amazing gardens… tourists came from all over the world. But did I go? No. Why? Because I didn’t want to deal with crowds and traffic. I missed out on an excellent opportunity to get outside and explore because I didn’t want to sit in the car for an extra 20 minutes. I feel really guilty about that because I am the first to complain that there is nothing to do in my area. I am the first to complain that families are not spending enough quality time together. But it was right there, in front of me. A way to support local gardeners, for free, and I skipped out to watch Netflix.
Challenge: Go on your city website or Facebook and find something happening this month… and commit to one thing!
Now I might be beating a dead horse on this one… but watching other small businesses suffer, like we are, because we haven’t broken the barriers is hard. I know that this process has made me more aware and more appreciative of the hard work and effort that business owners make every single day just to stay afloat.
So, if you are a small business, let me know what I can do to support. I may not be able to buy- but I will get the word out!
Last pitch- because promotions are a thing! If you haven’t guessed… I am an author! The Writer and the Librarian and The Myth and the Monster – The Raven Society series is available to order- Just click here!
And if you are looking for a new family pet… why not look at a reptile? My husband is passionate, educated, and willing to answer any questions that you may have about snakes, spiders, bearded dragons, and everything in between… click here.