As an entrepreneur or small business owner, does your company spend time and/or money to positively contribute to your local community? If not, why not?
While generally not part of a for-profit company’s “reason for being”, many organizations – both big and small – have made it their mission to be a contributing member to their neighborhood, city and state. Some companies do it because they believe strongly in doing good, while others do it because they believe it will help their bottom line. However, in today’s business environment, most companies have realized the benefits of being a good corporate citizen.
So, how do you create a positive and meaningful bond with your community? There are hundreds of ways, but I wanted to share with you two of my favorites:
Be a Trustworthy Business
Building and maintaining trust with your customers and constituents is a big first step in establishing a positive relationship with your community. If you are dishonest with a customer, not only will you loose their business (and that of their family, friends and acquaintances), but word will spread quickly that you are an organization to avoid.
In the past it was difficult for a handful of customers to ruin a company’s reputation – even that of a small business in an even smaller town. However, in today’s digital age, email and social media have made it extraordinarily easy for one person to communicate a negative customer experience to a global audience. One negative review that goes “viral” on the internet can send your company’s reputation into freefall.
To ensure your firm remains a trusted and positive influence in your community, you must ALWAYS deal honestly, fairly and transparently with customers, vendors, and all others that come in contact with your company. While dishonesty might help you gain a few extra sales in the short-term, it can kill your reputation, and thus your business in the long-term.
Contribute Money and Resources to Non-Profit Organizations
One of the most powerful ways to establish your company as a good corporate citizen is to contribute money and resources to a non-profit organization. Whether the organization is an advocacy group such as a chamber of commerce, a civic organization such as Rotary Club, or a charity such as Ronald McDonald House, your money AND resources (expertise, donated items, connections, time, etc.) are always needed and valued.
Most non-profit organizations make a practice of publicly acknowledging their donors throughout the year. Make it your practice to incorporate this recognition into your sales and marketing activities. If your intentions are pure, there is nothing wrong with communicating your contributions to customers and the community at large. They will have a deeper appreciation for your organization and hopefully reward you with their loyalty and patronage.
Whether you are a small business operating on Main Street or a fast growing enterprise with customers across the globe, the benefits of establishing your company as a good corporate citizen are numerous.
How do you contribute positively to your local community? Take a minute to share with us your stories and suggestions!
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