The impact of small businesses both nationally and locally is unquestioned. Not only do more than 30 million small businesses operate across the US (99.9% of all businesses), they employ nearly half our country’s private work force.
But as a small business owner, the value you add to your community extends well beyond jobs that keep residents working and spending close to home. So, let’s explore how you can benefit from your give-and-take relationship with local clientele.
Community Life: We’re All in This Together
As the creation of a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts, synergy is the best way to describe what happens when you contribute to the community that you’re a part of - and that community supports your business in return.
Your business gives … a personalized customer experience, care and awareness in terms of how your business decisions affect your neighborhood, economic benefits attached to shopping and sourcing supplies locally, and a sense of community identity and cohesion – whether you run the local yoga studio, café, or restaurant.
Your community gives back by … spending money at your business, supporting your entrepreneurial lifestyle, contributing to the neighborhood’s commercial viability by keeping tax dollars in the community, and prompting municipalities and tourism boards to preserve the local flavor created by local businesses like yours – drawing even more customers to the area.
By supporting small businesses in their communities, local residents are also supporting the neighbors who work at them. Those neighbors, in turn, eat, shop, and play locally, creating a healthy, vibrant commercial center that reinvests profit back into the community.
5 Ways to Benefit from Bettering Your Community
Whether it’s through meeting prospective clients, increasing your company’s exposure, or developing new business partnerships, cultivating your synergistic relationship with the community can boost your success and help your extended neighborhood thrive.
Here are 5 ways your business can continue to add value to your community - and the benefits you can expect in return:
1. Be a Good Neighbor
Successful small business owners are actively involved with their communities. Consider demonstrating your neighborly side by:
- sponsoring the local Little League team,
- supporting the local school’s athletic or arts program,
- helping out at the local chapter of your favorite non-profit organization, a nearby soup kitchen, or an upcoming charity event,
- adopting a neighborhood street or highway in your company’s name,
- joining your local chamber of commerce
Not only will initiatives like these give you the opportunity to network locally, they can do wonders for your brand exposure.
2. Join Local Events
Does your town, city, or community boast a market, festival, or annual parade? As a minimum, you should be attending these events to see and be seen. Even better, however, would be taking advantage of the chance to set up a tent, sponsor a float, or compete in a charity run. Participating in local events can help you and your staff become recognizable in the community - and it will give your business something to blog about.
3. Host Local Activities
If you’ve got the time and the physical space, why not host local groups or activities at your place of business? The possibilities are endless, but could include:
- bringing in local instructors to offer workshops,
- inviting local artists or writers to share their work,
- hosting networking events or motivational speakers,
- making meeting space available for local community groups
There’s very little – if any – cost attached to offering opportunities like these. But there’s a good chance your business reputation will benefit - especially if events draw the interest of local news media.
4. Reward Customers for Shopping Locally
One of the best ways to show appreciation for local clients is to reward them for their loyalty. Consider surprising customers from time to time by:
- offering an in-store-only deal or discount,
- giving a free gift with every local purchase,
- making complimentary tea, coffee, and cookies available in-office,
- holding a customer appreciation flash sale, contest, or wine and cheese event
Remember: the gesture doesn’t need to be large. Finding simple ways to remind your clients they’re valued is a proven way to generate goodwill for your business.
5. Lead the Way to Mutual Success
When you join forces with other entrepreneurs in the community, you’ll significantly increase your synergistic reach. If you don’t have ready access to one, consider starting a small business association where local owners can:
- exchange referrals,
- share collaborative tools and methods for helping each other grow,
- discuss ideas or combine resources to improve local parking, keep sidewalks clean, or beautify the neighborhood
Whether directly or indirectly, cooperative efforts like these benefit your business, your business district, and the community as a whole.
Supporting one another’s businesses also encourages benevolence among local companies so that, when any one business succeeds, that success is more likely to ripple outward in the form of increased local traffic and word-of-mouth recommendations.