November is a popular time to give back and give thanks for all that we have. But for small businesses, it’s important to support and give back to the local community year-round. Here are six reasons why:
1. It’s a two-way street. You want people in the local community to buy from your business, right? When they do, show your thanks by supporting their community.
2. It’s smart business. Building local goodwill will pay off for your business in the long run. You might think buying an ad for the high school drama club’s program, sponsoring a little league team, or offering up your parking lot for a charity car wash might not lead to a huge influx of sales. And the truth is, doing these sorts of things isn’t something you can quantify when it comes to sales. But what giving back does accomplish is boosting your brand’s image.
If you and your business stay involved in the local community year-round, people will—over time—see that your company isn’t simply after profits. That’s a powerful message to send, especially in an era where more and more consumers regard big businesses with much suspicion and derision. (To wit, an article published in 2012 by Investopedia notes that, “A recent Harris poll suggests that consumers don’t trust a lot of big businesses and less than 20% of people trust companies in the banking, pharmaceutical and health insurance industries.”)
3. It helps other small businesses, just like yours. By putting your dollars back into local businesses, you’re showing your commitment to helping other local small businesses thrive. Why is this good? The reasons for supporting fellow small business owners are many and include the following:
- It’s good for the environment. As the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) states in an article called Top 10 Reasons to Support Locally Owned Businesses, “Local stores help to sustain vibrant, compact, walkable town centers, which in turn are essential to reducing sprawl, automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.”
- It supports a spirit of entrepreneurship, the same spirit upon which our nation was built. In a Time magazine article called “Buying Local: How it Boosts the Economy,” the author notes that “According to Susan Witt, Executive Director of the E.F. Schumacher Society, ‘buy local’ campaigns serve another function: alerting a community about gaps in the local market. For instance, if consumers keep turning to on-line or big-box stores for a particular product—say, socks—this signals an opportunity for someone local to make and sell socks. This is the way product innovations get made, says Witt.”
- It keeps dollars in the local economy. The ILSR notes the importance of this fact since, “Compared to chain stores, locally owned businesses recycle a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community.”
4. It can unlock opportunities. You never know whom you’ll meet when you start getting “out there.” Perhaps you’ll find a person in your local community with the exact skill set you’ve been looking for to round out your team. Or maybe while participating in a local event, you’ll meet someone who knows someone who could use your products or services. You could benefit in other ways as well, such as getting exposure through the local press. For example, if the local paper shows up at a road race to do a story and take pictures, it certainly won’t hurt if the race staff members are photographed wearing T-shirts with your business name printed on them.
5. It can boost employee morale. Just as people want to do business with good companies, people also want to work for good companies. Your employees will be proud that their company supports and gets involved in worthy causes in the local community. This helps instill loyalty and a desire to see the company succeed. A win-win for everyone.
6. It’s often the life blood for small non-profit organizations. Sustainable Connections is a non-profit in the state of Washington that describes itself as a “local forum where businesses come together to transform and model an economy built on sustainable practices.” It notes in this article that, “Non-profit organizations receive an average 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.”
What do you think? Is it important for small businesses to stay active in the local community? How does your business get involved? Share in the comments.