This is the week. The winter holiday season is now upon us, like it or not. The next six weeks will be a blur for many of our fellow business owners and leaders as they try to capitalize on what, for many of them, is make it or break it time.  

We’re fortunate to live in a vibrant community that is very welcoming to businesses and entrepreneurs. They give back generously, supporting local charities, public events and other worthwhile endeavors, all of which make this a pretty awesome place to work and live.

 I’m no doubt biased because I’ve been one of those local business owners for 25 years, and I know firsthand how strong and supportive the community can be and the importance of that partnership. But I think in this season of giving and gratitude, we can do even more to let our local merchants, entrepreneurs and business owners know how grateful we are that they planted a flag in Central Iowa. In the age of Amazon Prime, Cyber Monday and every item you could ever want being just a Google search away, it takes incredible courage to hang out your shingle, whether you’re a retailer or service provider. 

 In this week of giving thanks and Small Business Saturday (Nov. 30), I’d like to suggest we all go out of our way to encourage the risk-takers who defy the odds and carve out a place in our community as small business owners. 

 I’m going to challenge you to think of the four or five local establishments that you frequent and ask you to show them some gratitude over the course of the next few weeks. Of course, you should shop local, but even if you aren’t currently in the market for what they’re offering, you can say thanks and let them know that they make our community better by their efforts.

 Tell your world about them: We know that some of the most powerful influencers are a consumers’ family and friends. They trust your judgment, and you know them well enough to be a pretty good matchmaker. If there’s a business you particularly appreciate, why not recommend it to a friend or two? 

 You can also interact with the businesses’ social media posts so that your connections will be exposed to your friends and family. Give them a like or a comment and tag other people to do the same. You could create a viral sensation!

 Show off their offerings: Did you just buy something that you absolutely love? Or get a gift that’s the perfect fit? Use your social channels to celebrate some of the unique offerings we have thanks to Central Iowa entrepreneurs. 

 If they’re having a big sale or special offer, share that too, so your family and friends can take advantage of the opportunity. Be a cheerleader for the businesses you value.

 Give them a well-deserved pat on the back: We live in a ratings and reviews world these days. Many of us rely on Google, Facebook, Yelp or other review sites to help us navigate unfamiliar waters.

 Human nature says that we’re more likely to complain on a review site than go out of our way to give praise for a job well done. Why not leave some glowing reviews for some of the restaurants, retailers and service providers that you find valuable all through the year?

 It doesn’t take a lot, but boy, it means a lot. Your dollars, recommendations, shout-outs and reviews can have a considerable influence on how the holiday season goes for some of your favorite local business owners. 

 Why not say thank you in this very meaningful and tangible way this holiday season to some of the establishments that make our community so special?