There are over 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S. alone. However, statistics show that only 50 percent will survive five years or more after opening. Their success depends on a great number of factors, but much of it is related to cash flow and competition.

As a consumer, you can support small businesses by being more mindful of your shopping habits. Not only will independent establishments benefit from your business, but there are also several benefits customers will enjoy. Small businesses offer a more personal, quality shopping experience you won’t likely receive at major retailers.

The Benefits of Shopping With Small Businesses

Shopping with small businesses doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing quality. In fact, you’ll probably end up with higher quality items from a small business than you would a major retailer. The product or service you’re buying from local entrepreneurs — such as handmade jewelry or baked goods — is their specialty. Therefore, they will give you a better shopping experience.

Owners take a lot of risks when starting a business. To cut costs, they’re probably doing a lot of things on their own that major corporations have help with, such as marketing, managing finances, and customer service. They will do what they can personally to make customers happy in hopes that you’ll be a returning customer.

Another benefit of shopping at a small business is boosting the local economy. Whether it be in your community or an online order, your shopping can stimulate cash flow and help diverse businesses stay afloat. Plus, the more business a shop receives, the higher the number of job opportunities for people living in the area.

Small businesses can be more sustainable than big retailers. They typically have more transparency in ingredients and materials being used, so you know exactly where everything is from. Plus, the manufacturer-to-customer journey can be a lot shorter, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint.

Entrepreneurs are likely to source locally and ethically, which can be tough to find at major retailers where importing from factories with poor working conditions has become a norm. You might end up paying more money by choosing small businesses. But that investment can be a healthier choice for the local economy, environment, and quality of your product.

How to Support Small Businesses

The best way to support small businesses is by shopping with them. Consider swapping your usual Starbucks drink for a local coffee shop brew at least once a week, buy clothing from a self-made designer instead of fast fashion, or opt for an independent wedding photographer instead of a big name company. There are so many goods and services out there for you to choose from.

You can also support small businesses by purchasing gift cards. This is a quick way for you to give them some money if you don’t need anything from them at the moment. Plus, you’ll be able to take advantage of it later on. Alternatively, you can buy gift cards for friends and family and introduce the business to new customers.

To show your support for services, consider booking appointments in advance. This will give the cleaner, nail artist, contractor, or other entrepreneurs some relief knowing they have paid work in the future to look forward to. On top of that, sign up for loyalty programs and newsletters so you can stay on top of future incentives and promotions.

Sharing your small business finds with friends and family is another helpful form of support. You can post photos or share the business’ posts on social media, which can pique the interest of anyone who stumbles upon the post. Consider taking your support one step further and writing a positive review on Yelp or other platforms to spread the word.

Search Online for Local Businesses

Putting your dollars towards small businesses can be positive for the owners, customers, and community. Independent establishments give neighborhoods’ character and are often where innovation happens. Becoming a regular at small businesses can prevent them from being forced to close due to competition from billion-dollar corporations, economic downturn, and other cash-flow hardships.

Some other things you can do to show your support are:

  • Give employees a tip for their service;
  • Ask local governments to help small businesses succeed;
  • Be on the lookout for new businesses opening in your community, or;
  • Shop on websites like Etsy for small businesses operating without a website.

There are a lot of ways to shop locally. You could visit stores and services in person or search online for places that can ship products straight to your home. Become a regular customer with at least one local business and continue looking for new independent places to shop with.