Any small business owner knows it's the community that drives your success. You've put in the hard work and determination required to produce a valuable product or service, and the community responds by buying and spreading the word.
You can show your appreciation by giving back to the community that supports you, which gives you the space to create even more positive impact with what you do. You'll also notice that with almost every positive action you take in the community, it offers lots of benefits for your business, as well, in terms of publicity and awareness. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Donate a Percentage of Proceeds
You could do this on a regular basis (maybe to a different cause every few weeks), or during a specific period of time. True Life Fitness Apparel, for example, donates $2 from every purchase to Women Win, an organization that empowers girls through sports and fitness.
Donate What You Don't Sell
Depending on what type of business you're in, at the end of the day or the month you might have unsold products that will go bad if they're not used or are out of season. Partner with a local homeless shelter or another organization, and arrange to deliver these products to them for distribution among those in need. This is an especially good opportunity for bakeries and restaurants.
Offer Your Service for Free to Those Who Need it Most
If you're a yoga teacher, you could offer a free restorative yoga class once per week for parents who have cancer. If you make clothes, you could donate some items to people who have just gotten out of prison so they can go for their first job interview. If you are a counselor, consider offering a free group session to victims of abuse.
But how much to give? A simple guideline: If giving feels good, you're doing it right. If it makes you feel worried, stressed, or resentful, you might have overstretched yourself for the time being.
Sponsor a Team
Buy the uniforms or equipment for a local children's sports team. Not only does it help them out, you usually get some advertising out of it, too, with your business name on the jerseys. It also gives you an excuse to go to the games and meet more people.
Share Your Expertise
What do you have to teach? Look for opportunities to give speeches or present information: scouts, moms, churches, and other groups and clubs often like to have special guest speakers at their meetings and events. That could be you.
Can't find a group that suits your niche? Create a free webinar and include the link on all your online and print publicity.
Spread the Word for Others
As a business owner, you've got a little bit of a platform. Depending on the size of your community, you might be known throughout the city, but at the very least you're known and respected by your customers.
If you see another business (perhaps one whose products or services compliment yours) or charitable organization doing work you trust and believe in, spread the word about them in your newsletter, on your website, or even in your store or office.
Go to the Parade
And not just the parade: fairs, festivals, and other events are all great opportunities for you to embrace the community while spreading the word about what you do. Even if you can't build a float or have a booth, attend and participate anyway.
Be the Parade
If you sense a lack of community in your area, create something yourself. Organize an ongoing competition in the neighborhood that gets people together to win prizes your business can offer. Host an open house, holiday party, or summer picnic and start building the community you want to be a part of.
How do you get your business involved with the community? Share your stories with us!