You’ve heard of Small Business Saturday where, one day a year after Black Friday, you’re encouraged to go out and support local businesses. Why should you limit your support to once a year? Small businesses are the cornerstone that holds a community together. They make a community unique by providing specialized products instead of just the standard cookie cutter goods and services you can get from the big name businesses that pop up everywhere. Chain stores serve a purpose, but local Mom and Pop stores existed long before the chains moved in. You may already shop local, but have you considered investing local? Just like giving a pledge to your local PBS station keeps them on the air, you can invest in local businesses to keep them up and running. Sound easy? It is. Investing locally creates a strong, local economy and sense of community. Here are some of the best ways for you to invest local:
- Move your money – Move your checking, savings, credit cards, and loans to a local credit union or bank versus the national chain banks. Local banks and credit unions account for 20% of small business loans. They invest locally when you do. If your community doesn’t have a local credit union, start one! Credit unions are easier to start up than banks and most can be run by part time employees and volunteers.
- Donate Locally – Giving to charity is a great way to help others. You probably know the big names, but what about smaller local charities and non profits? Your donations allow the local charities to invest local by helping small businesses be successful. It’s a win win for you and the community.
- Sponsor Local Businesses – Investing locally by sponsoring small businesses goes beyond getting you or your business’s name up on the sport’s field, on the back of a t-shirt, or in a yearbook. Check popular sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo for local business campaigns to invest in. You may only get a t-shirt or a thank you note, but you can feel good knowing you and others like you invest locally to help a entrepreneur achieve their dream.
- Prepare a Community List – Sites like Craigslist and Freecycle are great for finding local goods, but what about finding local investment opportunities? Create a craigslist like list for local investors looking to support local businesses. It may take time to track down leads, but overall it is an easy project to create. As a bonus, once word gets out about your invest local list, businesses will come to you with leads.
- Promote Program Related Investments – By law, foundations must donate at least 5% of their assets each year. The other 95% usually goes to non local stocks, bonds and other causes. Try to convince your local foundations and non profits to invest that 95% into local businesses instead. This is called Program Related Investments. If the local business is not successful, the foundation can always apply the loss toward their grant-giving requirement.
Investing local is a great way to give back to your community. It strengthens the local economy and ensures that small businesses will continue to be around to produce their unique goods and services. Why be cookie cutter when you can stand out? Investing locally is also a lot easier than you’d think. Anyone can do it. With a little bit a practice, you can become an Invest Local pro! What are you waiting for? Go Invest Local.