Make your resolution to help small businesses with these 5 easy (and free) practices

Danielle A. Vincent
4 min readJan 2, 2018

Most of us know someone who has started a small business. You might be stuck in a quandary of how to support small business without going broke.

If we’re going to talk about how hard it is for people (especially women and people of color) to start businesses in the US, we’ve got to support them when they get out there and do it.

You might think that the best way to support a small business is to buy from them, and that might be hard if you don’t have a lot of cash. You might start to resent them for posting their own business stuff. You might wish you could support everyone, and feel insufficient for not being able to.

But you can. For free. Here’s how:

1. Comment on a post

If your small business friend posts something that they’re working on, comment on that post. It could be something short like, “Love what you’re doing here” or “Lookin’ good!” but just add something.

Here’s why: Facebook, Instagram, medium, and Twitter surface posts that have comments, and suppress posts that just have “likes👍” or — worse — a pillow of silence around them. Commenting indicates to these social networks that your friend’s post is important. These networks will show more of your friend’s posts to people who are following your friend’s business, not to your friends. So it won’t look like you’re hawkin’ your friend’s wares, it’ll just improve the visibility of your friend’s posts.

2. Share a post, with a comment

If you like something your friend posted, share it and give your own line of comment, like, “My friend has a new show out, and it looks fantastic!”

Here’s why: When you share a post with a comment, you’re showing that you’re a human being, not just a brainless bot.

3. Give supportive words

It may not feel like a lot, but when you see and talk with your friend, tell them how much you love what they’re doing (be genuine). You don’t have to love their product — heck, plenty of people don’t like ours — but they’re out there doing the hard work of being an entrepreneur, and that deserves a hug and a pat on the back.

Here’s why: As entrepreneurs, 90% of our days are filled with work and hearing “no” over and over. It’s discouraging. Hearing that you appreciate how hard this is can give us the strength to keep going, even in the darkest hours.

4. Don’t ask for free stuff

I know this is controversial, but it’s important. When people are just starting a business, every penny counts. When we give away a bar of soap, we’re buying you a cup of coffee. When we give you a candle, we’re buying you lunch. These products aren’t free to us.

You may justify it saying that your friend needs the exposure, or needs testers, but unless you’re a professional blogger with a million followers, you’re taking product away from us that we might have otherwise sold.

Here’s why: It’s so hard to draw the line and disappoint people. I hear it time and time again from my fellow entrepreneurs. Friends and family expect stuff for free all the time* and we always want to be nice, so we don’t charge. So please just don’t even ask. It puts us in a weird and awkward position of having to pick between our friendship and our business. Yeah, it’s like that.

5. Thoughts and prayers

In the case of a shooting, thoughts and prayers are effin’ useless. But in the case of a small business, your thoughts and prayers are really important. When you’re praying, please put a little word in for us and our business. When you hear someone talking about the plight of small business, put a little word in (even a thought!) for us.

Here’s why: We need all the help we can get. If you believe in God, you believe that he or she is all-powerful and can create powerful change. Don’t you want that for us and our business? It’s free, and takes just a minute.

With just these 5 things, you can meaningfully support a friend’s business. It means so much to know that we have your well-wishes and support, no matter what your financial position.

Whoever you are, thank you for caring enough to read to the bottom of this post. Just the fact that you care enough about a small business to invest the time to trying to learn how to support a friend means a lot.

* I need to note here that my friends and family have been INCREDIBLY supportive of our business and have never asked for or expected free stuff. If anything, they have been overly insistent that they pay. But I do hear of it from other entrepreneurs in my network.



Danielle A. Vincent

CEO of Outlaw — — award-winning entrepreneur, published author, and incurable optimist (the doctor says it’s terminal)