Guest opinion: It takes a village

This holiday season, pitching in to support a small business may be easier than you think.

Many small towns are proud to feature a vibrant main street, and rightfully so. Busy storefronts are a sign of activity and growth. They also indicate strong community support.

But not every small business gets their start in a brick and mortar location. With the popularity of online shopping, more small entrepreneurs are learning that their dream of selling locally-produced food, artwork, and handmade items can be achieved from the comfort of their own home.

While home-based businesses have their benefits, they also deal with their own set of challenges. Walk-in traffic isn’t practical. The curiosity that comes from filling a storefront isn’t going to materialize. Catching the attention of community members with a bright sign or colorful display isn’t going to be as effective in a residential area.

Instead, these home-based businesses rely on word of mouth. That’s where you come in.

Many new entrepreneurs take to social media to advertise their goods. Give them a follow. This allows you to stay up to date on new products or special sales. It also shows the business owner they have your support.

Consider sharing their information in a post on your own page. Your credibility can carry a lot of weight — when you share a local business with your friends and family, they’ll see you as a trusted source and give that business the benefit of the doubt. This can do more to drive sales than any catchy slogan ever could.

Finally, remember a positive review can make all the difference. Many consumers spend time researching a business before making a purchase. Letting others know you’ve had a good experience can help them feel confident in their investment.

Small entrepreneurs and business owners have been working hard to prepare for the holiday season. Now, it’s time to do your part.

Jessica Campos is the Women’s Business Center director for the Center for Rural Affairs. Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action oriented programs addressing social, economic and environmental issues. See