Community involvement and social responsibility aren't just for large companies. Small businesses also have a long and proud tradition of making a difference in their communities. It's not only the right thing to do — it can help you build your business.
The benefits of community involvement go beyond simply feeling good because you helped a worthy cause.
It raises the profile of your business, creates positive exposure, and opens the door to new networking opportunities.
These activities can also reinforce employee morale, fostering a spirit of teamwork and collaboration that will enhance on-the-job performance.
If you're looking for ways to get engaged, a good starting point for finding community involvement ideas is your local Chamber of Commerce.
They frequently sponsor events that offer opportunities for participation, advertising, or in-kind donations.
Civic groups and charitable organizations are also great sources for community activities.
These organizations almost always need help.
You might consider sponsoring a youth sports team or fundraising event like a 5K race or golf outing.
You could contribute to food drives and roadside clean-ups; or provide giveaway items with your business's name and logo. Local schools are often in need of sponsors for various activities and events — the possibilities are endless.
These events usually require volunteers, so encourage your employees to participate as a team building opportunity.
Many will do so willingly, but consider offering an incentive such as a few hours off to compensate for their time.
Giving them custom T-shirts or hats will reinforce teamwork and provide another way for your business to stand out.
Don't worry if you're a one-person business. You can still be a part of your community just like larger employers.
Examples include personally volunteering for the National Cherry Festival or other community events, donating money or supplies to a local charity or participating in a park clean up.
These groups greatly appreciate the help and typically publicly thank their sponsors.
However, consider issuing a press release about your involvement or mention it on your website.
Just be sure your business takes a back seat to the community benefits.
For more information and ideas about starting or growing your small business, contact Traverse City SCORE at 231-947-5075 or toll-free at 888-796-4913.
Visit www.UpNorthScore.com to schedule a free and confidential appointment with a SCORE mentor.
Tim Hinkley is a volunteer SCORE mentor, business management professional, and a former executive director of the National Cherry Festival.