The Glossary of Statistical Terms defines small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as independent, non-subsidiary firms that employ fewer employees than their bigger counterparts or corporations. The rules vary from country to country, but the most frequent upper limit to define an SME is 250 employees, per the European Union.
SMEs are the lifeblood of the global economy due to the following reasons:
- They account for the majority of companies or businesses worldwide, contributing significantly to global economic development and job creation—they represent 90 percent of businesses and 50 percent of employees across the globe.
- They are particularly helpful in developing markets since they generate the most formal jobs.
It’s unfortunate, therefore, that SMEs don’t get the same resources as larger corporations. They don’t have the same amount of clout or loan access, which makes them vulnerable during political and social turmoil. We will be doing a world of good by supporting and empowering them during this uncertain period in our history.
Whether you’re a leader or a key decision-maker at a bigger corporation or an individual who simply wants to extend a helping hand to SME owners during these difficult times, here are some practical ways you can do so:
Patronize their products and services
The best way to support SMEs is by choosing them over the larger corporations. It’s that simple and easy. For example, if you have the option to go to Whole Foods, which Jeff Bezos owns, and a smaller store owned by your trusty, hardworking neighbor, choose the latter. This is easier said than done, especially when bigger supermarkets or groceries have more considerable inventory and provide more options. Still, your continued patronage of smaller businesses will help them survive much longer.
Give them access to resources that will help grow their business
This blog post has established that SMEs don’t have access to the same resources as bigger businesses. If you are someone who knows your way around the world of business, consider helping the SME owners you know by connecting them with consulting firms who specialize in helping SMEs.
One community that deserves help is SDVOSB or service-disabled veteran-owned small business. You can help refer them to a firm that provides the following services:
- Help them meet the US Small Business Administration’s criteria for what makes a small business
- Ensure that they will receive certification, especially since the vetting process can be incredibly rigorous
If you know a veteran who started their own business, don’t hesitate to offer help however you can. They have given your country an incredible service, and it’s about time civilians give back to them as well.
Support them online
Because most SMEs don’t have the money to develop explosive marketing campaigns or a splashy online presence, customers can help support them by sharing their posts or writing positive reviews about them on social media. The best thing that the internet has given the world is that it has democratized entrepreneurial success. It leveled the playing field in reaching new audiences and converting their attention into sales. Even the simple act of re-posting a social media post can go a long way in extending the SME’s reach from one degree to another.
Tip higher than usual
If you frequent a restaurant that’s just starting or owned by an aspiring entrepreneur, consider tipping more than usual. The standard is 15 to 20 percent of the bill before sales tax, but you can go as high as 25 percent, especially if you find the service top-notch. This might not seem much, but every little bit helps the employees and the owners improve their situation. Give local restaurants a fighting chance by choosing them instead of their fast-food counterparts, or those you know are owned by chefs or business owners that you know will be fine regardless of how the pandemic or the rest of the world pans out.
Check in with the owners and employees
Without crossing boundaries or being weird about it, consider asking them how they’re doing when you drop by their place of business. The pandemic and potential global unrest elsewhere might be taking a toll on them. So even the simple act of asking them how they’re holding up might be the boost they need to keep going.
When you support SMEs, you empower the little guy and give the economy a much-needed boost. Decide to help small businesses over the multinational corporations who will be OK no matter the state of the world, and you will be doing your community a world of good.