COVID-19, known as the novel coronavirus, has hit our nation harder than any pandemic most of us have seen or experienced in our lifetime.

Small businesses are taking a huge hit right now, costing families their livelihood. If you want to help them survive, read on for 6 things you can do right from your own home.

Though we have never faced anything of this scale in the past, in 2012, a fungal meningitis outbreak in the U.S. was traced to a pharmacy in the Northeast. By the time the source was isolated and the drug recalled, 48 people had died. But the spread of the new coronavirus has proven nearly impossible to contain — except through the practices of social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine.

However, these practices have caused several businesses everywhere to shut down completely. Those that have been hit the hardest include the small business and mom-and-pop shops in your area. If you wish to learn more about how to lend a hand and support small businesses when you can’t leave the house, continue reading.

Offer Your Creative Services For Free

Are you a writer, painter, or a graphic designer? These are all things you can do from the comfort and safety of your own home. If you wish to help your small local businesses and are in a position to do so, send emails offering your services at no cost to them.

But how exactly can you use your creative skills to help these places of business flourish? You can write blog posts about their industry to help them grow their web presence or help them design products — like digital courses or graphic tees — that they can sell online to their customers. You can also help your local business update or create a website if they are lacking in that department. Even if you don’t have creative skills to offer, you can still ask how you can help and post about these businesses on your social media accounts.

With roughly 400 million entrepreneurs worldwide, there are plenty of opportunities to lend your support to business owners who will undoubtedly suffer major financial losses as a result of this virus. You’ll also have the chance to keep busy and flex your creative muscles during this trying time.

Order Takeout From Your Local Restaurants

While many restaurants and eateries will no longer serve customers in their dining rooms, many are providing take-out or delivery orders instead. Check the local business’s website or social media pages and see if they’re offering to deliver food. Alternatively, you can order through apps like DoorDash, UberEats, Postmates, and Favor. Make sure to write in your delivery notes that you’d prefer your delivery person to leave your food at your front door. This further reduces contact and protects both parties from the virus.

Buy Prepaid Giftcards

While you may not be able to physically shop at these retailers, consider buying a gift card that you can use to spend once they’re operating as usual again. This is an excellent way to help keep small businesses, creatives, and arts organizations afloat during an uncertain time. You can either give these out as gifts to future recipients or keep them for yourself once the threat of the virus has dissipated. If you know someone who has recently lost their job, digital gift cards can be a great way to provide food and other necessities to a friend or family member in need while supporting a small businesses at the same time.

Shop Online

If your small business has an online shop, make sure to order a couple of items to help keep their business thriving. Door delivery also reduces the risk of spreading the virus. You’ll want to double-check that the business has the capacity to fill online orders first and make sure that their staff is being taken care of. Some local businesses may not be set up for online ordering — but if you know of an independent business that sells the same items that Amazon does, it’s better to shop small (even if that means waiting a couple of extra days for your item to arrive).

Tip More Than Usual

If you can afford to tip a little more than 20% when ordering takeout, go ahead and splurge. These employees are risking a lot to deliver food to your home. Not to mention that their waitstaff will likely have to take a pay cut due to the dramatic economic decline. This is an excellent way to show your support without sacrificing much.

Offer Small Donations

We rely on online retail for a lot, as is evidenced by the trucks that move 71.5% of the nation’s freight by weight. And in a time where we’re being affected by a pandemic, it makes sense to continue to shop online. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop sending your financial support to small businesses in your area — even if you can’t physically visit them. If you wish to support these businesses, consider offering a small donation, especially if it’s a non-food related establishment that cannot offer takeout during this time. Consider giving small donations to any businesses in your area. You can also check to see if the business has set up a GoFundMe page. If they have created a page, make sure to share in on all of your social media pages.

Why Social Distancing is So Important During This Crisis

If you’re wondering how to do your part in the fight against the spread of this disease, social distancing is the best way to go about it. Though you may not feel physically sick, try your best to stay home in order to keep the spread of this virus contained. Limiting your contact with others, paired with frequent handwashing, is the best strategy we have. It prevents many from not just getting sick, but also from passing the disease onto the susceptible members of society, such as the vulnerable and elderly.

How to Practice Social Distancing

  • If you feel sick, stay home (as you don’t want to risk anyone else getting sick)
  • Only leave the house if it’s absolutely necessary (like for a quick grocery or pharmacy run)
  • Stay healthy and fit by working out at home (skip the gym!)
  • If you need to interact with others, stay at least six feet apart

This pandemic has hit our country, our businesses, and our people. However, smaller businesses have been hit the hardest. If you have the ability to lend a hand and wish to help those people running their small businesses, consider donating, ordering takeout, and offering your creative services for a reduced rate. Of course, one of the best things you can do is to practice social distancing during this time. You’re doing your part by staying home, healthy and safe.