Café owners, shopkeepers, hairdressers, cleaners…small business owners are the backbone of our economy and our community. And right now, they need your help. If you can afford to, here are some ways you can help small businesses get through the current crisis. And if you can’t afford to, the last one is completely free but totally priceless.

1. Gift vouchers - buy now, use later

If you’ve got a local business you’d like to support, buy a gift voucher now to use later. Not only will you be helping keep a business afloat, you’ll have something to look forward to when all this is over. For a double whammy of wonderfulness, buy the gift card and give it to someone else who needs a little lift right now.

2. Accept credit notes

Many public venues have had to close and cancel events recently. For smaller venues especially, this creates a huge hole in their revenue. If you can afford it, don't ask for cash refunds right now. Accept rescheduled events or a credit note. Even better, donate the value of the ticket by letting the venue know you don’t need the money back.

3. Buy an annual membership now

Many visitor venues offer an annual subscription where you pay once but can visit all year. Usually you only need to visit a few times in that twelve months to make it worth the money. With a full year ahead to make the most of your membership, consider joining now to give the business a much-needed boost at a difficult time.

4. Bank hours

Rather than cancel your cleaner or personal trainer, ask about banking your hours. Continue to pay them as usual and use the time later in the year, when they’re able to work again. For businesses providing personal services that require close contact or access to your home, cancellations could mean the end of their business for good.

5. Sign up to local services

Call your local dairy and greengrocer. Are they still delivering? If so, sign up. You’ll get fresh produce delivered to your door. Milkmen often deliver more than just milk – like orange juice and eggs. You’ll not just be benefiting yourself, you’ll be helping sustain a service that many elderly people rely on. There are lots of small suppliers in your local community; you just might not have noticed. Sign up to local Facebook groups and see what items you can buy online, from sweet treats to handmade clothes and gifts.

6. Get takeout

Instead of queuing for the supermarket’s last courgette and then wondering what the hell to make, order takeout. You’ll make your own food suppliers go further and you’ll help a local business weather the current storm. And if you’re able, don’t forget to tip. We need our home deliveries more than ever and we can’t have those without drivers.

Finally…Let them know you care

For many small business owners, their business isn’t just their livelihood, it is their dream come true. And many stand to lose it. If you’ve been using the same community businesses year-on-year – if you’ve got a regular barber, a cosy local café, a long-term cleaner – let them know you’re thinking about them. Ask if there’s anyway you can help, and reassure them you’ll be shopping with them when this is all over. A little kindness means a lot.

If you're a small business owner, take a look at our hub of Coronavirus information for small businesses.

Transmit have been supporting small businesses with honest advice and access to start-up loans since 2012. We're with you.