The economy is growing too slowly to lift the job market, according to two recent government reports. Job growth has tumbled, consumers are less confident, and Europe’s financial crisis has curbed demand for U.S. exports. Even the Federal Reserve has downgraded its outlook for 2012 growth.
Although hiring hasn’t improved, there are hopeful signs, reports Businessweek:
- Gas prices have plummeted since peaking in April near $4 per gallon, which could fuel consumer spending over the summer.
- While U.S. factories produced less in May than in April, factories received more orders for long-lasting manufactured goods in May, an indicator of a potential boost in U.S. manufacturing, a leading economic driver since the recession ended.
- Americans are starting to gain more confidence in the long-suffering housing market. Home sales are up from last year and signed contracts to buy homes matched a two-year high in May.
Is it enough? How can we—as consumers, small business owners, entrepreneurs, economic advocates—spur economic growth here at home?
Sure, some forces are beyond our control (Europe! interest rates!), but where and how we choose to drop the dollars we do spend and how we go about strengthening the small businesses in our community can make a difference to our local economy.
Here are just a few ways we can all pitch in to help grow our local economies.
Supporting local businesses delivers economic impact (along with social, environmental, and cultural benefits) impact, to the tune of:
- Economic prosperity: Local purchases generate tax revenue for municipalities and serve as a catalyst for job creation and growth.
- Trusted products and services: Local businesses ensure residents can conveniently get the products and services they need, when they need them, from nearby businesses they know and trust.
- Environmental improvement: Buying locally requires less transportation, resulting in less sprawl, congestion, pollution and energy use.
- Vibrancy and diversity: A city's core is strengthened by local businesses that add vibrancy to city streets, neighborhoods and shopping centers.
- Opportunity: Strong local businesses meet the specific needs of the community, attract new talent, encourage entrepreneurs and draw other businesses to invest.
Source: PR Newswire
Choose Local, Kansas City
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Find customers for your small business.
Every business needs to get, keep and grow customers. There are two ways to grow existing customers: Get current customers to spend more money, or encourage them to send more customers to the company. Both are detailed in these two articles about how to get customers and how to grow your customer base.
Find customers who are ready to buy.
Feel like you’re wasting time on old prospects who aren’t ever going to buy? Take the steps to start building relationships with prospects who feel the pain, need you to remedy it, and have the money for your solution.
Market your small business at summer events.
Summer’s here and for most communities that means the season of outdoor fairs, festivals and other events is under way. For a small business, summer can be a great opportunity to market your business to local residents and other event-goers.
Tap the crowd for funding.
With limited access to loans and investors, crowdfunding may be the best new tool for small business that need funding. Crowdfunding lets anyone to contribute money to the newest innovations, businesses, and causes, giving new businesses access to funding that wasn’t available before. See how crowdfunding just may save the U.S. economy.
Get your customers talking about your small business.
Build your word of mouth by getting our customers to do the talking. Here are 10 ways to engage your customers on social media. (And be sure to keep your eyes out for our own version of no. 10. Love it.)
Give away cool stuff that keeps them thinking about your small business.
As you get ready for the season of conference and industry trade show, think about how you can let your brand linger in the minds of vendors and potential clients. Check out these 11 ideas for cool giveaways
that young entrepreneurs say are worth investing in.
Get help from local small business experts.
Tap into KCSourceLink’s network of nonprofit business resources to find the help you need to analyze your competition, market your business, and grow your customer base. Just enter your zip code, business stage, industry, and what kind of assistance you need, and our Resource Navigator will give you a list of low- and no-cost resources that can help you take your business to the next level.
Embrace small business education.
Kansas City offers a steady stream of educational opportunities for your business that cover business planning, funding, human resources, marketing, networking, sales and more. Check out our Classes & Events Calendar to find the opportunities to help overcome your business’s challenges.
Share your thoughts.
Share your thoughts on how to grow jobs and the local economy in the KCSourceLink LinkedIn Group. What does your small business need to grow?