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community management

Why Shopping Small Business Matters

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Why Shopping Small Business Matters

by Kate Vandeveld

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about how you can make a difference during the holiday season – from making more sustainable choices, to purchasing gifts that give back, to shopping small business. And while most of us know that shopping at small businesses is a good thing, we may not entirely know why.

shopsmall

Here are a few of the key reasons why shopping small business is so important:

 

Boosts Your Local Economy

Buying from small, local businesses boosts the economy in smaller towns, and creates job opportunities in places that need it. In fact, small business job growth is huge: Over the past decade, small businesses have generated over 63 percent of the net new jobs available in the United States, and currently employ almost half of the nation’s workforce. Because small businesses are more likely to purchase their products from domestic manufacturers, by shopping local, you are supporting jobs not just in your own community, but in small towns across the country.

Economy

In addition, when you shop at small businesses, you are investing in your local community. When you shop at small businesses, around 68 percent of what you spend will stay in your local economy, versus the 43 percent that stays local when you shop elsewhere. If residents of an “average” American city shifted 10 percent of their spending to local businesses, it would mean an influx of over $235 million into that community’s local economy. Imagine what a difference that would make!

 

Takes a Stand for Human Rights

When you buy locally, you can take steps to make sure that the products you are buying are not being made by exploited or abused workers. You can ask questions about whether or not small business products were made locally, and where exactly they were made. In addition, 85 percent of small business owners pay all of their employees more than the minimum wage, so it is more likely that you will be supporting fair wages when you shop local. In a recent poll, two out of three small business owners supported increasing the federal minimum wage, as well as readjusting it yearly to keep up with increased cost of living.

humanrights

On the flipside, shopping small means you won’t be supporting large corporations like Walmart. When you shop at these large corporations, it’s very possible that you will be purchasing products that were made in inhumane conditions, where workers are overworked and underpaid, and sometimes forced to work in unsafe conditions. Walmart employees themselves are overworked and underpaid, so much so that this year, workers protested against the corporation on Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. The union-backed labor campaign OUR Walmart launched a nationwide strike against the corporation, asserting that they aren’t paid enough to make ends meet. Their demands are simple and fair: they want the option of consistent, full-time work and a wage of $15/hour. These negative working conditions aren’t exclusive to Walmart; large corporations are more likely to pay their workers less than small businesses. 

 

Has a Positive Environmental Impact

Environment

Small businesses have “a deep connection to their communities’ and environments’ needs, and therefore often have an incentive to be good stewards of their surrounding environment.” Because locally-owned businesses generally make their own purchases locally (or at least domestically) as well, they have less of a negative environmental impact when transporting their goods. On the other hand, large corporations almost always get their goods from further away. This means that they frequently rely on aircraft transport, which has greater fuel consumption and greenhouse-gas emissions per mile than any other mode of transport.

Large food corporations also commonly use a great deal more (non-recyclable!) packaging than small farms and grocery stores. Every single day, the average American produces over four pounds of waste, much of which comes from food packaging. By buying food from your local grocery store, you can opt for foods with less packaging and therefore, create less waste. 

 

Builds Your Local Community

Local business owners are often more invested in your community’s future. So when you support them, you’re investing in the prosperity of your city.  Throughout the United States, only about 34 percent of the revenue from national chains is reinvested into the community, versus 65 percent from local businesses. This means that almost double the amount of the money that you spend at small, local businesses goes directly back into your community. Small businesses are also much more likely to give back, donating 250 percent more to local non-profit organizations and community causes than large corporations.

community

Beyond their economic contributions, small businesses also support and foster a sense of community that large corporations simply cannot. Small business owners connect and work with one another, and are much more likely to actually care about their customers and the products that they are selling them. Because of this, customer service is often stronger at small businesses. For us, and many others, shopping small business tends to be a much friendlier and higher quality experience. 

 

If you want to take a step further, you can shop at small businesses that are focused on social impact – we provide some great examples in our holiday gift guide.

So when you’re finishing up your gift shopping this holiday season, keep this in mind: shopping small business is worth it, for the environment, the economy, and your local community.

What are some of your favorite small businesses? We want to make sure the world knows about them! Share with us in the comments below, or get in touch on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram

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Go Green: Green Blender Empowers You to Get Healthy

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Go Green: Green Blender Empowers You to Get Healthy

by Kate Vandeveld

Social enterprises come in all shapes and sizes – from focusing on supplying clean water to supporting the cancer community. As long as the business is developed to make an impact, they’re part of the club. And enterprises that focus on health are no exception, which is where Green Blender comes in.

At Green Blender, they believe that in order to live a sustainably healthy lifestyle, you have to indulge in your health and do things that you love. Founders Jenna Tanenbaum and Amir Cohen started Green Blender to make it easy and fun to start your day with a healthy decision by providing a smoothie delivery service to those in the Northeast.

greenblender

Each week, Green Blender members receive a smoothie box with original smoothie recipes, and the pre-portioned ingredients and superfoods that you need to make those smoothies at home. They use only the highest quality ingredients with a sharp focus on working with organic and local farms – something that isn’t always easy to come by in the city.

This week, we chatted with Jenna about health, social entrepreneurship, and, of course, smoothies:

Why did you decide to start Green Blender?

Green Blender came to be out of a frustration I had around the generally accepted consensus about living a healthy lifestyle. Obviously food is crucial to our health, but being healthy is hard. We, as a society, often think that in order to be healthy, we have to go down a path of deprivation. We decide to give up carbs, dairy, or only eat grapefruit. But, as we have all found out at one point or another, that feeling of deprivation catches up to us and we regress. 

I wanted to start a company that lets people indulge in their health. If you love the food you are eating and it also happens to taste great and be easy to make, then that's sustainable. Investing in health is one of the smartest placed bets you can make.

What would you say have been the most challenging aspects of building a social enterprise? 

I think that the most challenging aspect of building a social enterprise is just being patient. I'm the type of person that, once I have an idea, I want it to come to fruition right now. That can get tricky when you're on a mission to change health habits.  

jenna&amir

What has been the most rewarding part of your experience as a social entrepreneur?

The most rewarding part about being a social entrepreneur is seeing how we have helped people redefine their attitudes about food and health. Members tell me all the time that they have never felt better. It's not just about making smoothies – that's really just a starting point. This is about having fun with your health and feeling amazing in the process. 

How do you envision Green Blender growing over the next 5 years?

I see Green Blender becoming a place where people can go to feel empowered. We firmly believe that there is no one way to lead a healthy lifestyle. It is entirely up to you and how you feel. I want Green Blender to become a place to help facilitate that realization. 

Is there anything that you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started Green Blender?

When I first started Green Blender, I was afraid to make a mistake. I spent too much time making sure that different projects were absolutely perfect, only to launch them and realize they needed to be adjusted anyway. 

smoothies

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own social enterprise?

Just go for it. It's never the right time to start, but once you do, you'll never look back. People become social entrepreneurs because they are passionate about something, and they let that passion show through. When you decide to get started, I suggest writing down why you took that leap of faith on a piece of paper. On the days you're feeling lost, you can look back and read what you wrote. Without a doubt that will give you a second wind. 

We couldn’t agree more with Jenna’s philosophy about empowering individuals to live sustainably healthy lives! And we can absolutely relate to her learnings along the way.

After a week of overindulgence, it’s time to get back on the health train. And we can’t think of a better, easier, and more inspiring way to do it than with Green Blender. Check them out, and take a step toward a healthier, happier you. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest – they're social!

And if you aren’t in the Northeast, but want to try out the superfood goodness that Green Blender offers, check out their holiday smoothie pack – it includes 10 amazing and creative smoothie recipes and a superfood sampler.

Are you inspired by a unique social enterprise concept? Tell us about them in the comments below, make an introduction via email, or let us know on Facebook or Twitter. And don’t forget to join the WhyWhisper party on Instagram!

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3 Timesavers for Social Media Management

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3 Timesavers for Social Media Management

When discussing social media strategies with members of the impact community, we often hear how difficult it can be to find the time to regularly post to social channels. Many people are simultaneously managing fundraising campaigns or exploring brand partnerships and e-commerce strategies-- and while they can remember to post the initial traffic drivers, they forget to maintain their momentum.

Here are three tools we highly recommend, both for content curation, as well as overall community management. Hope you find them helpful!

Buffer
Best for: Scheduling Content 
What you should know:

  • By granting Buffer access to all of your social profiles, you can easily schedule the times your posts should go live each day or have Buffer analyze past engagement patterns to choose the right times for you
  • Add team members to share responsibility and allow for collaboration
  • Access analytics about clicks, retweets, mentions, shares, likes and more
  • Use the to Chrome extension to add content to your queue without leaving the article you're reading
  • Check out their extras to ensure you can easily share from your phone, news reader, and more
  • Remember to pause your Buffer during crises or world disasters, so as to avoid insensitive content going out at such times

Hootsuite
Best for: Community Management
What you should know:

  • Schedule posts across multiple social networks
  • View newsfeeds and interactions via your Hootsuite dashboard
  • Keep track of mentions of your brand
  • Create streams to track industry keywords, new followers, and more
  • Filter search results by language
  • Collaborate and assign messages to your team members
  • Access data on post engagements and traffic 

Zite
Best for: Content Discovery
What you should know:

  • App available on iPhone, Android, and tablets
  • After indicating the topics you're interested in, Zite provides a personal newsfeed that's curated just for you
  • Use your Quicklist to take a deeper look at articles falling into one particular category
  • As you like and share posts, Zite's algorithm hones in on your preferences 
  • Block publishers whose content you would prefer not to see

Have other tools you would recommend? We would love for you to note them in the comments below!

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