What is the significance and importance of small businesses, especially those led by women and minorities?
Small businesses are the heartbeat of our communities and the backbone of our local economies. But many have struggled during the pandemic – and those led by women and minorities are feeling the impact of the pandemic the most. More than half of minority-led businesses reported a drop in sales compared to the previous year—6 percentage points higher than other small businesses. And across the US, women-led small businesses closed at a higher rate than those run by men, with the gap growing throughout the crisis.
This is yet another reminder that whenever crises occur, it’s always the most vulnerable who are the hardest hit. We’ll continue to support small businesses wherever and whenever possible. They’re a lifeline to our communities and economy, and we’ll continue to speak up for them.
How have you seen small businesses pivot over the past year to find success?
Yes. For years, businesses have been making the shift online, and this has really accelerated during the pandemic. Many businesses in Chicago and all over the world have stayed open by reinventing themselves – setting up online ordering and delivery, creating new products and reaching customers through social media.
The Jebran family, who run HoneyDoe Authentic Syrian Kitchen in Chicago, are a great example. The catering business is run by three generations of Jebrans—Siham, daughter Rana and grandson Anwar—who came to Chicago from war-torn Syria a few years ago. Together, they make dishes based on recipes passed down through their family for generations. They catered for events, from business conferences to universities and workplaces. But when COVID-19 hit, three months of bookings were canceled.
So, they started selling meal kits directly to customers online, reaching them through personalized ads and delivering to their doors. It felt like a big gamble, but it paid off. Sales are up and the future is getting brighter for the Jebrans and their small business.
How can a digital presence distinguish a small business and open a new world of opportunity?
Before the pandemic hit, a third of small businesses did not have a website or any online presence. The pandemic showed us how important being online is. Having a digital presence allows small businesses to get discovered, engage with existing customers and find new ones. It’s really the first step for any small business to survive and thrive in an increasingly digital world.
For small businesses, many will find that getting online and trying personalized ads will help them reach people interested in products for just a few dollars. Business owners can identify new audiences, expand their reach and connect with customers in a wonderful and engaging way online. Larger companies can run big national TV ads or a large marketing campaign that small businesses can’t. However, small businesses can really get the best bang for their buck by using personalized advertising to help them grow.
Where should a small business start?
There are three things that every small business can do to be successful online: Set up a digital presence, learn the basics of digital advertising, and know where to get help.
The first step can feel like the biggest leap, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. Anyone can set up a Facebook page or an Instagram business profile for free in just a few clicks. And when you have, a world of opportunity opens up. You can showcase products, communicate directly with customers, sell your products and services, and build a following of people who love what you do.
With digital advertising you can reach people you think will be interested in your products for just a few dollars. Learning the basics is easy – you can quickly learn how to create effective personalized ads, identify audiences to show them to, and measure your results so you get the most bang for your buck. And there’s support out there if you know where to look. A good place to start is Facebook’s Business Resource Hub – a one stop-shop for user-friendly resources and trainings.
What resources or offerings does Facebook provide to small businesses interested in expanding their digital presence?
As well as the Business Resource Hub, Facebook has resources available for Black and Latinx business owners looking to expand their digital skills at Facebook Elevate. And we are constantly developing our free and paid tools to help all businesses get discovered, save time and connect with customers. In just the last month, we released a New Page experience with a dedicated News Feed, rolled out new ways for customers to discover small businesses and even made it easier to manage your business across our apps with Facebook Business Suite. We’ll continue to listen to small businesses’ needs and build products to help them reach customers and increase sales online.