3 Ways Small Business Can Band Together With Big Businesses to Lift Up Communities

One of my favorite community hangouts in Menlo Park is Kepler’s Books and Magazines. It’s been around since 1955 and is a cultural hub for the neighborhood.

Kepler’s is also an example of a small business making a big difference. When Covid-19 shut down the local library earlier this year, Kepler’s sprang into action to loan over 500 books to library members at no cost.

If you look closely at your neighborhood, you’ll see more stories of businesses who changed their way of working to make significant contributions to the local community. From creating or sourcing protective equipment to keep communities safe, to moving their business online to stay connected with customers, the pivots have been inspiring and necessary.

Running a business is tough during the best of times. We’ve heard that businesses are looking to rebuild, and in some cases, even reimagine their businesses. That’s why Facebook created the virtual Boost with Facebook Summer of Support, a free six-week event for small businesses to participate in training classes and hear insightful interviews with business experts and the likes of Monique Nelson, Kevin O’Leary and Magic Johnson.

The lessons shared during this event aren’t only applicable to small businesses. Entrepreneurs and executives are both facing new challenges as communities reopen. Here are three of the top takeaways from Boost with Facebook’s Summer of Support that the broader industry can use to reemerge and reimagine their businesses.

Play a meaningful role in your community

Happily, consumers are going out of their way to support their local businesses. Facebook IQ research from May shows that 37% of U.S. consumers say they have made a special effort to purchase from a local or small business during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Many of our Summer of Support speakers say it’s time for businesses to authentically grow their community presence and pivot their business goals to be more meaningful to their customers and their communities.

Find a problem and fix it

One of the biggest lessons I learned during the stay at home orders is that small businesses are uniquely positioned to respond to the highly dynamic situation we’re experiencing.  Despite facing great uncertainty, small businesses stayed connected with their communities by going online to identify local problems and then quickly pivoting to help solve them.

From local distilleries creating much-needed hand sanitizer, to restaurants banding together to donate food to front line workers, businesses proved they have the flexibility to quickly fix what’s wrong. Businesses looking to re-emerge stronger can take a page from these small businesses and listen to their communities, identify a problem and pivot quickly to fix it.

Change the challenges faced by minority-owned businesses

Minority-owned businesses are two times more likely to be classified as at-risk or distressed than non-minority-owned businesses. But McKinsey’s Covid-19 U.S. Small and Midsize Business Financial Pulse report from May shows that more than 40% of minority-owned small businesses have added new services to support their communities and employees, compared with 27% of all respondents.

To play a meaningful community role, I encourage larger businesses to help with the financial challenges minority-owned businesses face. By doing so, they can further support the new services these businesses are offering. By providing these entrepreneurs with access to capital, they can help improve their visibility and contribute as a broader community to fix this national and ongoing problem.

There are many new considerations and hard conversations that entrepreneurs and executives must face over the next few months to make a difference for their business and their communities. I encourage everyone to embrace this summer as a time to support each other to boost our businesses, our economies and our communities.