Starting a small business is hard; much harder than most people anticipate. A lot of small businesses start from the realization that a product or service idea someone has can become a viable small business. The shock comes when they realize that’s there’s much more to running a small business than just delivering that product or service. Forty-hour work weeks disappear, replaced by long hours, working weekends, and doing a whole lot more than the business owner every realized. For a few, they come out successful on the other end. Their business is growing and the future looks good. They cleared all the hurdles, put in the hard work, and weathered the setbacks to become a successful small business. Time to relax now, right?  Not really.  Are you a successful small business?  Then it’s time to give back.

Remember where you came from when you started your small business

All small businesses are different, but all share the same struggles when they first begin. Coming up with a name, setting up the legal entities, creating a business plan, crafting a marketing strategy, getting the website built, putting systems and processes in place….the list goes on and on. Somewhere along the way, most business owners got help. They either found a great small business mentor, got financial help from someone, or perhaps got involved in a local organization dedicated to helping startup and entrepreneurs. Maybe they found someone in their industry willing to provide tips or assistance. Perhaps their first sale was to someone who simply trusted them to provide the product or service promised. Do you remember how your small business started?  The road to success is a long and winding one but it’s beneficial (and humbling) to occasionally look back over your shoulder and see where you’ve been. There’s lessons learned and lessons you can share.

Why give back as a small business owner

Small business owners need to share the expertise they have with others who are looking to start or grow their own small business. And before you say, “I don’t have the time” you DO if you make it a priority. So why do that when you’re still running your business?  There are several reasons.  First, if you’re a local-based business, you’re woven into the community and as such, need to be an active participant. Second (and this is especially true if you’re an online-only company) you need to nurture those personal relationships to encourage referrals. Third, you never know when your small business will need help again and getting involved and giving back will only help open those doors.

Still not convinced it’s right for your business?  Then consider this:  Giving back can supercharge your marketing by building your brand’s recognition and reputation.  Studies have found that 85 percent of consumers will switch from one brand to another associated with a cause they favor, with 91 percent of millennials willing to switch. Two-thirds of millennials and 53 percent of the general population use social media to engage around corporate social responsibility. Regardless of how you give back (we’ll highlight a few suggestions below), doing so can be one of the most powerful marketing tactics you can employ for your small business. Effective AND it makes you feel good. Why wouldn’t you do it?

How you can give back as a business owner

There are a few ways that you can give back, whether that be to your community, aspiring small business owners, or a cause that you hold near and dear. Let’s start with giving back to your community. You can donate your skills, products or services to a local cause. Not only does it help that cause, it showcases your expertise and puts your brand in front of potential buyers. A little too busy for that?  You can financially support a local cause or perhaps a local youth sports team. With any of these, consider two things first:  what causes do you care about, and will your efforts get you in front of the right audience?  There’s nothing wrong with that second question!  As a small business, your time, money and resources are limited. Make your efforts count by ensuring you are participating in something that has a chance to positively impact your company in some way.

You can become a mentor for other small businesses or entrepreneurs. Remember when you first started?  What valuable lessons did you learn?  Why not share your experience with those just starting out?  Join a mentoring group, establish a group of your own, or simply find someone who could benefit from your expertise. Trust us, that person will be thankful for your help and will refer business to you time and time again.

Maybe there’s a cause that’s near and dear to your heart. You can leverage the power of cause marketing which benefits an organization in need as well as your small business. Cause marketing refer to any type of marketing effort for social and other charitable causes, including in-house marketing efforts by non-profit organizations.  Cause marketing can be a powerful public relations vehicle. When your small business commits to cause marketing, you have something substantial to target for your PR efforts and should dedicate the time and resources to leverage the opportunity.  It helps with your social media presence as well. When you give back you can build your social media following, and the cause you’re working with. It’s a win-win relationship for all. They’re accessing a new audience and you’re accessing a new audience.

Convinced that giving back is good for business marketing but not sure how to start?  Here are 36 ways your small business can give back.

Whether you participate in mentoring, cause marketing, or community involvement, if you’re a successful business, it’s time to give back and see how much it will help your small business.

Patty Hughes
Follow Us!