Getting your business start-up off the ground will probably feel like it’s consuming all your available resources: all of your money, all of your creativity, and – most importantly – all of your time! Yet it’s important not to lose sight of the broader picture: your company is part of a wider community, which relies on business owners like you to prosper and develop.
Here are some of the most effective ways to advance the cause of both your local community and your own business.
Mentoring and lending expertise
Small organisations, especially charities, depend on technical guidance and support in order to grow and develop. As a business owner, you could well possess the exact expertise and experience they require. Website development, accounting, and marketing strategies – whatever your area of expertise, it’s likely that there’s someone out there who can learn from your knowledge. Sitting on a non-profit board or offering to volunteer your help can have prove indispensable to such organisations. Plus, by agreeing to help out, you’ll not only be helping out a worthy cause, you’ll be putting your name out there as an honourable community organisation. Mentoring, advising and teaching have another advantage, too: you’ll be donating time, rather than your precious funds.
Take part in community events
Make your brand known in your local area by participating in community events. For example, you could think about donating one of your products or a gift certificate offering your service to charity auctions or raffles at community events. Such donations will only set you back the cost of production – in return, you’ll get free and influential marketing exposure, whilst you’ll also be showing yourself to be generous in your contributions to good causes in your local area.
Become a sponsor
Arranging a sponsorship deal is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but there’s a good reason why: it works particularly effectively, and for both parties involved. Agree a small payment to associate your business with a local restaurant or bar, sponsor a school fair, or invest to feature your logo on the shirts of your local sports team. Such investments are long lasting and highly visual, and can help to substantially boost your brand identity.
Fundraising and donations
Donating a percentage of your profits to charity is practically foolproof positive PR. Installing a few charity donation boxes in your office can also bring benefits – everyone has loose change, and not inconsequential funds can be raised from gathering it all together in one place for a good cause. If you run a retail business, offer customers the chance to donate their change, whilst if you operate online, suggest they round up the price of their purchase so the difference can be donated to charity. Arranging company fundraising events can also prove a positive move, not just for the money they raise for good causes, but also for helping to build your own staff camaraderie. It’s perhaps more cost effective than donating some of your hard earned profits, too.
Blogging and social media
The world is going digital, making endorsements and support via online channels increasingly important for local businesses and charities. Include information about an organisation or links to their website in some blog posts – for very little effort you can help boost an organisation’s profile, online traffic and SEO, all increasingly important issues within the 21st century business landscape. Social media is probably the easiest – and by far the quickest – way of impacting local community movements. Helpfully, it’s free too. Retweeting a local business’ posts, publishing unique posts promoting their work, or even proposing to donate a certain amount of money for each share or retweet t their cause can all prove immensely beneficial.
Understand how contributing to community causes far outweighs the costs, but can’t think of an entirely appropriate way to contribute? Just go directly to the source, and enquire about how you can help. Besides, starting conversations with local businesses and charities is likely to benefit both parties in the long run.
This piece was written in conjunction with Sage, champions of businesses of all sizes and passionate about helping people of all ages to start a business.