These days, running a business is about so much more than your product and your profit. No matter how big or small your company is, consumers expect the most out of the products and people that they support — and it extends far beyond quality and customer service. From speaking out on social justice issues to standing on the front lines as a network of helping hands, businesses all over the country — and the world — are doing what they can to make a difference.
In this post, we’ll explore some ways that your small business can create change in your own community, and in turn, find that loyal, conscientious audience you’ve been seeking.
1. Find a cause and make it your mission
While your business may have the best intentions of making a difference in your community and globally, it’s a good idea to center your goodwill on a single or a few select causes. This focus will allow you to put forth maximum effort toward one thing, rather than a little bit of effort toward a bunch of things. What’s more, identifying what you and your team are passionate about is a great way to think about your company values and your responsibility as part of your local community.
When it comes to finding a cause to support, having an internal conversation is a good place to start. You can begin with the founders of the business — consider what your business is about, what issues face your industry or local area. Once you’ve had some time to pour over these questions, narrow down your options. After you have 2-3 causes picked out, you may want to take a poll or open up the floor for feedback from the community or your staff — if they’re on your side, you’ll have all the more resources and passion to pull from!
Not sure where to begin searching for causes to support? Check out these ideas:
- Environmental change
- Social justice work
- Food justice
- Community gardening
- Support local artists
- Refugee work
- Kids education, recreation
Once you’ve determined which cause you want to support, make it a point to write it into your company values. This will help you stay motivated and attract talent and customers that share your values.
2. Identify ways you can support
If you have a cause in mind, great! You’re halfway there, now it’s time to put in the work. Luckily, there are plenty of ways small businesses can get involved and demonstrate support for their community and the causes that they’re passionate about. To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of ways you can make a difference:
- Donate money
- Volunteer your time (establish a volunteer day with your staff for a great team building activity!)
- Establish scholarships
- Offer up your services pro-bono
- Donate your products
- Participate in or sponsor charitable events
- Share your space with non-profits (Example: host a community meeting or volunteer gathering)
- Host fundraising events (Example: 10% of proceeds go to X organization on Tuesdays)
- Host a voter registration event to encourage political change
3. Make meaningful business partnerships
Another great way your business can show support for your community is by uplifting other local businesses in your area, particularly those businesses that want to make a positive impact, too. Not only will these partnerships help you expand your customer and professional network, but they’ll also create a stronger sense of community support.
Here are a few ways you can build partnerships with other local businesses in your community:
- Promote one another’s posts on social media
- Sponsor events together
- Host a “Shop Small” event with a few other local makers
- Partner up to make a big donation to a charity of your choice
- Buy products from them or sell them in your store
- Use word of mouth to support each other’s businesses
- Collaborate with other business owners in your area and share tips for successful management
4. Support your team internally
Your staff is the backbone of your business, so your support should always start with them. Not only will your support make your team feel appreciated, but it will also help them stay motivated, passionate, and committed to your organization. Plus, if your company is a great place to work, your employees are more likely to spread the good word to potential customers, investors, and new talent.
Here are a few positive ways you can support your team:
- Offer paid time off to encourage much-needed brain breaks and R&R.
- Encourage healthy lifestyles by offering sick time and health care benefits.
- Promote professional and personal development by sponsoring attendance for local networking events and helping employees set and track their goals.
- Listen to the causes that your staff cares about and consider how you can play a role in change-making.
- Don’t just meet industry standards, exceed them!
5. Use your position for positive change
As a small business, you have the opportunity to engage with all walks of life within your community. From families and college students to your elderly neighbors, you hold a unique position of power within your neighborhood — one of the best ways you can leverage this is by simply using your voice.
From the Black Lives Matter movement to gender equality in the workplace, there are so many opportunities for you to speak out on your beliefs. In fact, many businesses are starting to incorporate their social and even political stances within their brand messaging these days. Using your voice on social media and throughout all of your interactions with the public can go a really long way so long as you’re respectful and informative.
Consumers care about so much more than your business’ aesthetic, customer service, or product quality in 2020. To survive and thrive as a small business, you’ll want to go above and beyond from here on out. From speaking out on social change to supporting charitable causes with time and money, there are plenty of ways you can create change in your community, and even around the world.
Use these tips to help you get started and make sure to update us on your progress and projects in the comment section below!
Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for 365businesstips.com. She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.