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  • 20 May 2014
  • Dr Billy M.

Supporting Your Local Community: Small Business Benefits

A supportive community is the backbone of every successful small business. Using your company's resources to support projects in the local community and other charitable initiatives offers several benefits, such as linking with neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships and accessing an affordable local workforce.

Supporting your community

Although you may be approached by organizations seeking donations, you should identify projects that are aligned with your objectives to ensure your time and money are spent wisely. Community support does not always entail monetary contributions — there are other ways you can offer support, often indirectly and with little effort.

Conducting socially responsible activities increases your reputation with the community.

1. Volunteerism
Your small business is teeming with expertise. An opportunity to volunteer for some community undertaking will bring out the talent of your staff. Track potential outreach activities that align with your company's efforts, such as supporting a local athletics team, mentoring high school students, providing food for local community functions or donating equipment to non-profits.

2. Going green
Demonstrate that your facility is eco-friendly by implementing green business practices. Energy-efficient practices contribute to the local community's objectives of reducing the carbon footprint while saving you money on energy bills.

  • Reduce energy consumption by installing double thermal-pane windows and low-wattage or motion-sensitive lighting.
  • Implement a recycling policy.
  • Involve the community in organizing cleanup efforts periodically.
  • When possible, source purchases locally to lessen transportation-based environmental impact and support other small businesses.

3. Offering Internships
Offer internships to suitable candidates from the community. Train them to help in certain areas of your business, such as front office, production line, sales or customer service.

Benefits

Supporting worthy causes can be a precious marketing asset. You might be offered free advertising from the local press that is likely to report positively on your activities, significantly reducing your budget for promotional activities. A stellar reputation within the community comes with many other benefits.

1. Enhanced reputation
Conducting socially responsible activities increases your reputation with the community. Volunteer programs typically lead to an enhanced public image, improved relations with the community and a more cohesive, motivated workforce.

2. Higher multipliers
Backing community initiatives with financial or educational support has the potential long-term effect of creating a more vibrant local economy. This is because the community relationships you build lead to more money being spent locally. This pumps up local economic multipliers, which determine local income, wealth and jobs.

  • Goodwill can come your way in form of potential customers, suppliers and players in the same industry with whom you can swap ideas.
  • Consumers are more likely to buy from you on account of your socially responsible activities, knowing that they are contributing by doing so.
  • You'll discover indirect marketing opportunities through word-of-mouth referrals. People tend to recommend those they have interacted with positively to their friends, family members and colleagues.
  • With volunteer work, your business name becomes associated with something beyond the pursuit of profit, strengthening your brand and increasing the range of commercial opportunities in the long run.

3. Building and strengthening interpersonal relationships
Getting involved in community activities places you in a unique position that connects you to new contacts at a personal level. Committing to a shared activity together further strengthens existing relationships and your ties to the community, extending the visibility of your business to people with common interests.

Not only will you gain customers through these relationships, but you are also likely to meet individuals with knowledge and experience that may prove helpful to your business.

Even for e-commerce businesses, a computer screen is no alibi for not connecting with your community. Local recognition is invaluable to every business, even if you do not have a brick-and-mortar location. The advent of location-based apps on smartphones ensures your business is found in search, thus your involvement in the local community is still a necessary part of best business practice.

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