Small business success correlates with the vitality of the community in which the company exists. Today, running a business means more than adhering to basic legal compliance, paying commercial property taxes and providing a solid product.
Small businesses must not only thrive as active participants within their local communities, but also adapt as the global marketplace grows more tight-knit due to the advances made in the Age of Technology. Here are seven ways your company can help improve the world.
1. Buy Local, Support Local
One of the smartest economics rules is to keep money in the local economy, which keeps the community thriving. Give back to other local businesses by purchasing needed items locally as often as possible. Social and civic well-being is tied to the share of the local economy maintained and developed by small businesses, rather than big-box stores. The same is true of higher wage-earning potential and better benefits for community members employed by small businesses.
Create a more neighborhood-friendly business website by listing a page of your local favorites, such as a coffee shop or co-working space.
Get to know other non-competing businesses in the area who have similar markets and needs to reach out to more folks in the community. Doing so will expand your network, customer base and opportunities for giving back.
2. Be Open to Collection Jars
Penny jar drives are ubiquitous, which is why you may have dismissed them long ago. A jar of who-knows-how-many-people-have-touched pennies can be off-putting to some customers. Remember, however — every little bit helps someone.
Be open to collection jars during the holiday season or during awareness months for specific health issues or causes, such as breast cancer and domestic violence. Let departments and employees set up their own collection jars. Every penny counts toward something good in the end.
3. Movember Mustaching + Movember Move
This November, think of more than being thankful for turkey and grow a mustache for Movember. Millions of gentlemen in more than 20 countries grow dashing mustache for all 30 calendar days of November. Their snazzy ‘staches raise money for major health concerns men face today, such as mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
Always wanted to see how you’d look sporting a handlebar mustache? Movember is the perfect time for #mustachegoals.
Plus, Movember mustache hashtags and photos are the best on social media. And women, you don’t have to feel left out — you can help raise funds too by doing a Movember Move challenge, such running a 10K or climbing a mountain.
- Offer Company Skills to the Community
Are you a law firm partner? Offer pro bono services to those in need, or develop a sliding scale for lower-income clients, without expectation of a set fee. Or, assist charitable organizations, new nonprofits or educational institutions with their legal services.
No matter the skill set your company possesses, you have something to offer your community — even if that’s several pairs of hands to build a house for Habitat for Humanity. Why not get together with other businesses on your block and talk about converting an empty lot or patch of dead grass into a community garden or a Little Free Library?
- Donate to Current Global Issues
With the hustle and bustle going on in the world, people rush through the workday, avoid bad news and ignore negative comments. Businesses stick to giving to familiar causes — and don’t let the following advice diminish the impact that has — but it is still vital to donate to current issues as a socially conscious small business.
Your monetary contribution changes real lives in real moments and enforces an immediate change, whether that’s a sip of clean water or an hour of light for a classroom for young students to learn. Consider the violence in Syria, where a chemical attack killed dozens of men, women and children. Syrian families have been caught in the crossfire of war for nearly a decade. Every human has the right to the basic needs of food, water and shelter, but many Syrians lack access to all three.
Perhaps the current issue you choose to address fits with your mission statement — but it doesn’t have to. Either way, your company has real power to effect change.
- Start a Company Composting Bin
Tired of weird smells in the break room? Start a company composting bin. While it sounds counterintuitive, the composting bin won’t smell. Indoor composting bins are designed to trap the scents in, and if you use newspaper for carbon and green plant matter for nitrogen, it balances out the smells while helping break down the icky scraps into rich compost.
Team members can take home compost for their garden, or use it for a community garden initiative — even if it’s a small herb garden in the break room.
- Offer VTO
How the world does business is shifting. More people work at home, and much of business conduct has moved online in recent years. Many people want to give back and volunteer, but can’t afford the time away. And, according to a survey by Glassdoor, the average American worker leaves half their vacation days unused every year. What can you do to encourage your employees to set aside time to volunteer?
Offer VTO, or volunteer time off — it works much the same way as paid time off, but is time you designate for volunteer activities. One survey revealed staff at the “best businesses” are four times more likely to discuss their charitable endeavors, which motivates a positive return on investment for recruiting candidates and employee morale. Go a step further and offer comped registration fees for professional development opportunities, or tuition reimbursement for VTO time taken. It’s a win-win for all.
Small businesses represent the soul of their communities when they give back and assist with increasing social and cultural capital, such as by buying local or supporting arts events. Don’t discount the penny drive jars or offering pro bono services to the less fortunate. There’s even power in growing a flashy ‘stache in November.
Go the extra mile and pay your employees to volunteer, so no one misses out on the good feeling you get when you give back. Small businesses can improve the world. The smallest of efforts can make the biggest impact.
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