Building Your Small Business by Building Your Community

Illustration of a crane building the word community

Small businesses can thrive within their city or town by becoming involved and invested in the community. Donations, sponsorships, and support for non-profit and civic organizations offer the valuable payback of word-of-mouth advertising and new customers who appreciate your goodwill.

One of the most effective ways to show you are a stakeholder in a community is through involvement or support for the school system or youth activities. People appreciate help and support for projects and programs that benefit their children and word travel quickly among parents.

Direct involvement related to your business can work particularly well for trades. Schools and youth centers operate on limited budgets and have buildings that can always use repairs and upgrades. Refitting a space with eco-friendly lighting or helping solve a chronic plumbing problem will be gratefully and frequently acknowledged. HVAC companies are always in demand.

Landscaping companies can lead a community effort to spruce up a neglected schoolyard or park that hosts youth sports. Providing a visible improvement will have people talking about your business through several seasons.

If donating services and repairs is impractical, there are still plenty of opportunities to support the needs and interests of community youth. Launch a scholarship in your company’s name. Sponsor a field trip or an event such as a soccer tournament. Offering a donation or help with a youth project such as providing meals to local families in need will boost your reputation as a community partner. Connecting with the PTO to see where you can have the greatest impact will get you noticed by a network of moms that will build you a client list.

Some companies even team up with student fundraisers and offer a discount on their services to donors. Almost anything you donate or provide will get your company’s name out into the community among people who will need your services sooner or later.

Youth sports organizations are great opportunities to connect to the community. Does a hometown team need help with equipment or uniforms? Do fields need better night lights? Could the turf use some work? Many cities and towns have a Police Athletic League that organizes tournaments and other activities for children and teens. The local PAL would probably have a slew of suggestions about how to become involved.

Coffee shops and small restaurants that can provide light food for different events are always appreciated. Food is a tried and true ice breaker, especially for community meetings about proposals and issues that bring together people with opposing views. And it’s a great way to give people a taste of what you have to offer.

If there’s a hometown parade, enter a float. Donate to the Fourth of July fireworks fund. Participate in holiday events and celebrations, particularly for athletic teams that pick up championship titles.

It can be helpful to partner with one well-known non-profit organization. Faith communities are a great resource. Congregations have their own charitable projects and would welcome some support.

Although community involvement means donations of time and money, for small businesses it’s usually time and money well spent. A successful community is usually home to successful businesses. When your community wins, you win.

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