How to Support Your Friend’s Small Business Without Spending Any Money

By Chris Olsen

Mark Zuckerberg’s big announcement last year was that the Facebook algorithm would be prioritizing “meaningful interactions” with friends and family. At no time is this shift more evident than the beginning of each school year. Social media feeds are overflowing with photos of kids on their first days of school. Standing on the porch, holding a letterboard or homemade sign that boldly displays the grade they’re about to embark on.

I adore these first day of school photos. As I scroll through Facebook, I show my support for the children who are eagerly just beginning school or confidently entering the next grade. I show my support for the parents, most of whom seem elated that their kids are returning to their school year routines. I show my support for the teachers working their butts off to develop the next generation of inventors and builders and helpers. I feel genuinely happy as I click the heart emoji on these posts. And I click all of them. Every single one. Even for the children of friends I haven’t seen since high school. I’m not alone. Statistics show these posts rank right up there with birthdays and weddings.

Here’s the thing about supporting kids and parents online during those first weeks of school: It takes almost no effort to do so. Just a quick click as you scroll through your news feed. A split-second positive affirmation. The kid feels good and the parent feels good. Even if you’re not a big fan of Facebook or other social platforms, this is what social media does best. Like it or not, it’s a powerful tool for building connections and communities.

When I spotted a popular graphic from Adria Adams Co. on supporting small businesses, it got me thinking—what if we supported the small businesses of friends and family members on social media the way we support kids embarking on the first day of school? But in particular, the businesses of female founders who receive significantly less support to start and grow small businesses. What if, every time your friend, former coworker, sister, cousin, aunt posted something about her business, you simply clicked the heart emoji? A split-second positive affirmation that says, “I see you over there building your enterprise, boss lady.” And “Keep doing what you’re doing, fierce founder, you’re making a difference.”

If you have more than a second, by all means, comment with an emoji or actual words! Share the post and shout out your friend who is running a successful company despite the odds that are stacked up against women business owners. Tag a friend or two or 10, to help raise awareness for this thing that your friend or family member is putting her heart and soul into every single day. Post a photo of her products and a link to her website. Leave a favorable review to let the world know you think she’s a badass. None of these things cost a dime and make all the difference in the world to a small business owner.

And when you do spend money this holiday season (because let’s be honest, you will be spending money), make it your mission to shop women-owned businesses. For an easy way to do so, check out My Founder Story’s #ChooseWomen Shopping Guide launched in collaboration with Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Minnesota. There are dozens of great gift ideas and over 100 businesses listed in the guide. Or, simply show your appreciation for the businesses in the guide by using this #ChooseWomen Shopping Guide Toolkit.

About the author: Chris Olsen is an author and broadcast media maven turned communications consultant. Through her work as a consultant, Chris realized her WHY—to support women-owned businesses in confidently communicating their purpose, setting them up for entrepreneurial success. She created My Founder Story as a platform for doing so.

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