Pandemics like the coronavirus can be absolutely devastating for small businesses. As people make adjustments to their regular schedule and spending habits, the future may be uncertain for entrepreneurs, employees, and their families. As a consumer, you have an opportunity to be a source of hope, support and sustainability in your community by taking a few simple steps to help.

Switch your regular purchases from big corporations to smaller companies

If you regularly buy your groceries at a big chain, consider buying from a small produce store, or picking up coffee at a local coffee shop instead. If you often eat at chain restaurants, and you’re still planning to eat out, try a local spot. If you’re not eating out at the moment, consider buying a gift card to your favorite local restaurant online or by phone. If you regularly buy clothing from major retailers, take a look online and try to find a small business to support with your money. Small purchases add up and can make a big difference in the bottom line for small businesses.

Buy gift purchases now, if you can afford to

If you have some expendable income available, consider buying ahead for birthdays, anniversaries, or even Christmas. Many businesses are heading into a season of struggle, and by planning ahead, you can offer them a major boost, while also making life a little easier on your future self.

Seek to reschedule instead of receive a refund

If you’ve booked a massage or a yoga class you’re afraid to attend, reach out and ask them if you can reschedule. Issuing a massive wave of refunds may be devastating for a small business. Better yet, ask if you can purchase a package of classes or appointments to use throughout the year! They may provide you a bulk discount, and it will be a vital injection of revenue for their business.

Tip extra when you’re out

If you live in an area where it’s still safe to dine out, stay in hotels, get your hair styled, or other services you would usually tip for, consider adding a little extra. Not only are people in the service industry experiencing a major dip in income, they’re also experiencing anxiety and even hopelessness about the months ahead. Increasing your tip can be a major morale boost.

Ask your small business friends what they need

If you have friends who own a small business, reach out to them and ask how you can help. Maybe they need someone to pick their child up from school while they work an unexpected shift, or maybe their schedule has prevented them from getting to the grocery store to pick up supplies. Maybe you could promote their business on your social media accounts. They’ll be encouraged that you care and see them in this situation.

As the coronavirus saturates our news channels and social media, it can be easy to focus on the bad news. Take a few minutes today to consider how you can be a source of hope for small businesses! You’ll feel empowered as you make a difference in your community, and provide a vital lift to the incredible small businesses you love.