Do More: 3 Surprising Ways You Can Support Local This Year

Thanks to Shannon from Scott's Marketplace for this guest post!  As a business owner, you know how much it means when someone actively chooses to shop local at your store rather than a chain, right?

But are you as mindful about doing the same when it comes to your own business?

There are many ways you can support other local businesses in your community -- some of which you may have never even thought of before.

And as you increase your local support, you’ll see how it can lead to all sorts of great things, including meeting a mentor, cross-promoting with other business owners, and even simply finding someone with whom you can share similar struggles.

Check out three surprising ways below you can become a more local-focused business this year:

Couple Meeting With Financial Advisor In Office1: Hire a Local Accountant

Tax time. We all dread it but it’s also an unavoidable part of life. (Unless you happen to enjoy a little thing called ‘federal prison.’)

And with April right around the corner, you’re probably going to start seeing a ton of commercials soon for all the bigger tax chains offering to handle everything for you (ahem, H&R Block and Jackson Hewitt).

But wait right there.

Instead of turning to a chain this year, why not seek out a local accountant instead?

Think about it: You’ll be supporting another local business owner, which means the money you spend stays in your own community, and you’ll probably get much better service.

I know this firsthand since I used a tax chain for years until a friend recommended a local accountant to me. The difference between the two was incredibly clear from the moment I met the new guy.

He asked me questions I’d never been asked before, which led to him finding deductions that I’d been missing out on for years. (I was an independent contractor at the time, so I needed every deduction I could get.)

He also took the time to educate me on what I was paying and why – and how to owe less the next year.

Lesson learned: Making the decision to use a local accountant won’t only directly impact your local economy. It will also enable you to reap the great, personalized benefits you often do not receive at a chain. (Like finding an accountant who actually cares about helping save your business, hundreds, if not thousands, in deductions.)

localart_fbpost12. Let Local Artists Decorate Your Walls

I was in an Italian restaurant the other day and there were some of the coolest paintings hanging on the wall for sale by local artists – and I repeatedly saw patrons getting up to go take a closer look at them, myself included.

You don’t see that happening at chains often because their décor is not usually worthy of discussion -- or a second glance.

But if you want to bring a little originality into your own business, hitting up WalMart or Costco for art prints isn’t going to do the trick.

Instead, why not invite a few local artists to use your walls as their own personal gallery space (where they can display and sell artwork), or purchase pieces from them directly?

You’ll be doing more than supporting your local art community; you’ll be giving your business a distinct look that sets it apart from all the rest.

And what happens if those paintings sell? Even better. Now you’ve got yourself an effortless way of updating your business’ look with a rotating wall of paintings.

Bonus tip: You can also hire local artists to decorate your storefront window to highlight upcoming sales, seasonal promotions, and holiday events, or you can even have them paint a mural on the interior or exterior of your store or office.

1150428_10151843967659314_1947962492_n3. Make It a Point to Have a Local Lunch

You’re slammed, starving, and don’t have much time to grab lunch. What do you do? Well, most days you probably head to the fastest and easiest place nearby (Subway, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Chipotle, etc.) and pick up something to eat back at your business.

While this truly might be the most viable option some days, there’s probably a day or two in there you could swap out for a local lunch.

Switching from a chain to a mom-and-pop restaurant, even just 1-2 days a week, is a realistic goal you can set for yourself that will also help to keep another independent business afloat.

You might also take a moment to research which local restaurants offer delivery services, as this can make it even easier to support local on a weekly basis.

Go further: If you normally bring your lunch, why not make it with items you’ve picked up at your local farmer’s market? If you like to stock your business with healthy snacks, why not do it with fruits and veggies direct from local farmers in your area? (You can easily and affordably do this with Bountiful Baskets Food Co-Op, which is available in many areas for $15 per basket or $25 if you prefer organic.)

Do More This Year

It’s probably safe to say that we’ve all been trained to think chains first since they’re what we pass on every corner, hear in every radio ad, and see in every commercial.

But with every switch you make, your mindset will start to shift from chain to local, opening up even more ways you can keep your dollars in your own community.

From your business’ walls to the choices you make at lunch, the more you do to support local, the more likely it is for you to develop an ingrained, local-first mentality in your everyday life.

(Just don’t forget to talk to your new accountant about all those local lunch deductions.)

How do you support other local businesses? Share below in the comments!

Author bio: Shannon is the content marketing manager for Scott's Marketplace and has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. (Or crayon.) When she's not blogging, you can find her daydreaming that she's Khaleesi from Game of Thrones.