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UPDATED: Jan. 4, 2021 —

Starting, growing, and sustaining a small business is no simple task, but the number of small businesses is growing in massive numbers—especially for Black women.

According to Fast Company, women of color account for 89% of the new businesses opened every day over the past year. This number has grown faster than the overall rate of new women-owned businesses in the past five years—21% versus 43%.

Starting a business is arduous and requires countless hours and emotional energy. As the friend of a rising or even established entrepreneur, you may be wondering how you can offer support to your loved one. The most obvious way is to, of course, patronize their business.

But in these trying COVID-19 times, offering financial support may not be ideal for your pocketbook. Thankfully, there are so many other ways to support your bestie’s endeavors that don’t require you to spend money.

Here are free ways to support your friend’s business:

Woman showing shop owner photos on smartphone

Source: Thomas Barwick / Getty

1. Write a review

According to Harvard Business Review, for every one star increase that a business gets on Yelp, they see a 5-9% increase in revenue.

Reviews truly matter. If you’ve tried a friend’s product or service in the past don’t keep the good news to yourself. Craft a thoughtful and glowing review on Google and then post it on any other platform that features your girl’s services.

Your detailed review gives potential buyers the confidence they may need to make educated purchasing decisions.

Friends with cell phones in beauty salon

Source: Peathegee Inc / Getty

2. Spread the word

In addition to sharing online reviews, word of mouth is another great way to spread brand awareness. According to a 2020 report from Kantar Media, advertising is the least trusted source of information about brands among consumers. People want to hear from their friends—not advertising. Consider yourself an ambassador of your friend’s company and talk up her product to your circle of influence.

Women using cell phone together on steps

Source: Peathegee Inc / Getty

3. Promote their venture on your socials

Is there a BOGO (buy one, get one) promotion or some type of sale going on? It will cost you absolutely nothing to click share and let your followers know about it.

“I have had friends post about my brand on their social channels [and it helped in a big way]” says Samia Gore, founder of Body Complete Rx, one of the first Black, female-owned nutritional supplement companies to break significant ground in the male-dominated, nutritional supplement industry.

African American business owner using laptop in store

Source: JGI/Tom Grill / Getty

4. Offer to write a testimonial for their website

Small businesses can always benefit from a little social proof. If you’re particularly impressed by what her business has to offer, volunteer to write a thoughtful testimonial to appear on her business website and social media accounts.

“[Testimonials] and reviews are extremely important to a business,” says Gore. “Most consumers look to connect with others who have either used or are using a product or service which they too want to invest in. Reviews help to guide consumers based on what others have to say about their experience with the brand, product, or service.”

Young woman using laptop in kitchen at home

Source: Westend61 / Getty

5. Send her informative literature

Did you recently learn some valuable information regarding your friend’s respective industry or read an interesting article about entrepreneurship? Be sure to pass it on.

Here’s informative content for entrepreneurs to get you started:

Multiracial business meeting, black woman in charge

Source: kali9 / Getty

6. Be a thought partner

Small business owners don’t typically have access to a large staff with whom they can bounce around ideas. Offer a listening ear and thoughtful input while your friend brainstorms and problem solves.

It’s also important to help your friend practice gratitude so they can be a happier person overall.

Need ideas? “Think about three to five things you’re grateful for daily,” says Karen Rae, Founder of Balanced Life by Karen Rae. “Really picture it in your mind and feel the gratitude flood your body. Doing this daily will help rewire your brain to feel naturally more grateful, and you’ll begin feeling even happier [each time you do it].”

For a more tangible gratitude activity, encourage your friend to keep a gratitude jar. “The gratitude jar is a simple exercise that can have significant effects on their well-being,” says Rae. “You only need a few items: a jar (or a box), and paper and a pen for writing your gratitude notes. If you ever need a quick pick-me-up, you can always take out a few notes to remind yourself of all that is good in your life!”

Safe and secure payments made easy

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7. Distribute their business cards

Ask for a handful of their business cards that you can keep in your purse and hand out to co-workers, neighbors, and other people you may encounter on a daily basis.

And don’t worry if you think business cards are no longer effective. Did you know their number of sales can increase by 2.5% for every 2,000 cards that get passed out? Make a goal of distributing 5,000 in the coming months.

Business people greeting each other in coffee break at seminar

Source: Luis Alvarez / Getty

8. Make introductions

Do you personally know another business owner with whom your friend can form a mutually beneficial partnership?

Take a moment and go through your list of contacts. When you find a few prospects, ask for their permission, then make the introduction. If you need help breaking the ice, here are a few tips to give you the encouragement you need:

Smiling woman painting friend's fingernails

Source: Klaus Vedfelt / Getty

9. Lend a helping hand for personal and business-related tasks

Some entrepreneurs report working as many as 60 to 70 hours per week. Often times, this means that many of their personal tasks fall to the wayside.

Helping out can be as simple as offering to make a post office run or as complex as taking their kids for a few hours on a Saturday or offering to give them a manicure. It’s really about the small things that can make a big impact. And, if you can’t physically help out, offer to set them up with apps and websites that can do the planning and scheduling for them.

10. Offer items that boost productivity

Everyone strives to work smarter, not harder but it doesn’t always work out that way. Give your friend a helping hand by offering them items around your home that boosted your productivity. Do you have an extra event planner that you love? Give it to her. Do you swear by a certain timer or app? Suggest them to her.

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