By Andrea K. Hammer
When you launch a business, success is a driving force. At first, you are consumed with staying afloat and making a profit. However, passing revenue benchmarks may still leave you coming up short. Beyond meeting financial goals, the desire to make a difference may nag at your conscience.
To feel completely satisfied, you may need to contribute to your community in a meaningful way. The question is: How can you develop a plan, which is right for your business?
Some social entrepreneurs weave “doing good” into the fabric of their company. On a practical level, you may recognize that a scaled-down approach is more realistic and manageable. Here are some steps to get started.
1. Donate a percentage of sales to an important cause.
Do you care deeply about protecting the environment? Would you like to help advance cancer research? Donating even a small percentage of your sales can matter to organizations working in these and other critical areas.
A genuine commitment rather than a marketing ploy may forge stronger bonds with like-minded customers and prospects. One bonus: Advertising these donations may inadvertently build sales — while helping others.
2. Schedule employee volunteer days.
If projects exceed the number of available hours, you may think that this option is impossible. However, taking group time to work together on projects like Habitat for Humanity may ultimately strengthen teamwork and productivity.
When your group returns to the office, lessons learned after serving others may fortify your business. At the very least, the positive feeling will boost morale.
3. Teach a skill.
If doing volunteer work away from your office is impossible, invite eager learners to join your group. As they discover techniques for developing software or designing advertisements, new sparks may fly.
A recent graduate or experienced senior may offer fresh perspective. At the same time, volunteers on your premises may help you accelerate project completion.
4. Create a job.
After teaching new skills to volunteers, you may spot a few promising candidates for your company. You have already done some training and invested time in someone who may slip seamlessly into a vacant position.
If you don’t have full-time openings, even part-time or contract work will help someone in need buy food and pay bills.
5. Partner with local businesses and artists.
If you can only donate a few items from your store, ask other businesses in the area to schedule a collective event. Inviting a local musician to perform or asking artists to do demos could attract additional interest.
Through arts and business partnerships, we can achieve more together than on our own.
If these options for contributing to your community are not do-able, simply brainstorm solutions with your group. Even an hour of exploration will lead you to a plan that is right for your business. You may not change the world, but you can definitely make a difference.
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