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Supporting Small Businesses in the Littlest Ways

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The concept of a small business, although relatively old, did not become popular until a few entrepreneurs realized that they could utilize the suddenly popular app TikTok’s platform to grow their businesses. Many entrepreneurs struggled to get clout for their hard work until everyone’s For You pages were filled with ASMR packing videos of people filming their packaging processes. It became trendy to be an entrepreneur: someone who spent time making custom art, or cute stickers, or personalized and embellished mugs, and it became even trendier to purchase goods from self-made businesspeople. The hashtag #SupportSmallBusinesses was trending on most social media platforms, and many people excited themselves when they found a line of work they liked. 

Like it is with most social media trends, there came a group of people who criticized the new mania. However, they weren’t being grinches about supporting small businesses. Rather, they were annoyed at the idea that small businesses were being treated like charities that survived on their clients’ aid. A 2018 article by The Guardian offered a small business owner’s perspective on Small Business Saturday. TL;DR – trends like “Support Small Businesses” and “Small Business Saturday” and “Shop Local” make entrepreneurs appear to be needy and desperate. Apparently, some people don’t like being perceived as someone whose life would collapse if not for the support of their clients. While this may be valid, so is the opposite. 

There are, in fact, some small businesses that depend solely on their entrepreneurial skills to make a living. As a small business owner myself, I argue that in some parts of the world, especially third-world countries, small businesses lack support. Most entrepreneurs are freelance artists who lack the “qualifications” (like an art degree) but are talented enough to produce cute stickers, or hand-made cards, and personalized pencil pouches. In a world that prioritizes tangible qualifications and academic grinding (which is very prevalent in South Asia), it’s often hard to win the complete support of a potential client. Sure, they love your hand-painted jars, but are they willing to pay you the money you deserve for that jar? Chances are they’re not. While that is completely acceptable, because we can’t expect everyone who wants cute notebooks to be financially fortunate, the problem arises when people label the products as “overpriced”, when in fact they are not. 

The pricing is mostly what it comes down to when having to win the complete support of fellow customers. Large corporations can get away with having three or four-figure prices because they have a brand name to back them up. It’s sad to see entrepreneurs not being able to fairly price a very similar product that is hand-made, ethically sourced, and is a result of hard work – not machine-made. Regardless of academic qualifications, their ability to create something personal and useful requires your support, and the best part is that it doesn’t even need monetary support. Yes, you heard me, you don’t have to buy a product to support a small business. Every like, every nice comment, and every share can make all the difference to an entrepreneur who is shadow-banned on Instagram. With each share that you make, you introduce their work to many other potential clients. And that means a lot to us. 

Never question the prices of a small-time entrepreneur. Unless of course, they’re charging you hundreds of dollars for a mug, in which case, it’s likely not a small business. The effort that goes into the detailing of the product and the efforts made to give you a great unboxing experience deserve to be commended. If you are unable to afford the product of a small business, don’t say that it’s unfair pricing. If you want to support a small business, there are plenty of great links out there on social media you can follow. If you want to support them but don’t have the cash, just check them out and help them with their social media engagement. Supporting small businesses makes a big difference. 

Hi! I’m a Sri Lankan student studying in the US; I love dogs, biology, spicy food, debate, bullet journaling and the color purple. You might find me obsessing over Sherlock and The Big Bang Theory, or drawing characters from Disney’s Tangled :)
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