10 Ways Your Small Business Can Make The World A Better Place
Sometimes the troubles of this world are overwhelming. Needless tragedy, wars, disease, poverty, orphans living on the street seem so hopeless. Here in the USA it seems every other person is on an antidepressant or struggling otherwise. While we seem so tiny and ineffective, one little person can make a big difference in the world for everyone that they interact with. A small business, however limited on resources, is able to make an even bigger difference. If we consider many successful companies that make the world a better place, then how can we do anything but try to follow in their footsteps? Do you want to be the restaurant in your city that is known for feeding the homeless? Would you want to be the hair salon in your city that volunteers their time to do makeovers for cancer patients? If selfless philanthropy and encouraging others to make the world a better place isnt enough reason for you to make some changes, then consider doing it for selfish reasons like improving your company's reputation. Even a small business can make a big impact, and we have 10 ways for you to do it to spark some ideas.
How to Change the World
Set A Good Example - The best way to change the world and effect the most people is to set a good example for those that you interact with. If you think about the chain reaction that can happen by setting an example and being a genuine person you will soon realize how vast your actions can echo. Have you ever noticed in a group of friends that if one person gets involved in something and good things happen from it, others soon jump on the bandwagon? Consider how, as a small business owner, you are surrounded by employees, clients, potential clients, families of employees, families of clients, vendors, competitors, other small businesses in your area, the people that all of those people interact with... the list goes on. So just by setting a good example you can change the world - one connection at a time.
Volunteer Your Time - While most people assume that donating or helping a charity involves writing a check, the truth is that sometimes the most helpful thing that you can do is offer free or discounted services. Perhaps you can round up your staff for a day at habitat for humanity, which not only helps others but will build on your team's teamwork skills. If you are able to pay your employees for their time or use a slow workday to do this then that is an even bigger statement. When you make volunteerism an integral part of your company's culture, you are fostering a giving spirit and maybe even changing hearts and encouraging your employees and their families to spend their time volunteering to help others. You may want to consider your company's industry, mission, and core values and find a non-profit to partner with that helps you complete that mission. You can work to not only support this NPO with your company's time and money but also encouraging your employees, clients, friends, family, and others connected to support this NPO. If you start with just one this can be a very effective way to change the world for those affected by that Non-Profit.
Use Your Money to Make a Statement - This can be as simple as selecting vendors based on their values and reputation. Working with local small businesses, rather than corporate conglomerates or foreign companies that may not follow our countries labor laws, is one good way to make a statement with your money. You can also consider when you order lunch for a company meeting to think first of a local family business rather than a chain restaurant to call for food. You will definitely want to avoid companies known for bad practices, but also think of focusing the money that you will spend anyway on companies that also make the world a better place.
Donations - You can start by selecting that one non-profit that you thought of partnering with and making monthly donations to them. If you feel as though you can't afford to do this, then start small and donate an amount that you would not miss. Even a small amount can make a difference over time, especially if your donations are encouraing other donations. You can also offer employees the option of donating straight from their payroll checks to make it easier for them if they choose to participate. If you are able to, consider matching the donations of your employees, perhaps up to a certain amount that you are able to. You can also setup a way for your client's to choose to donate to the charity upon payment. Even in small amounts, these amounts can add up and make a big difference in the world. Outside of the difference you are making with your dollars, you are changing hearts and making those around you givers, and then they will effect those around them, and so on.
Be Good Stewards - While we are living on this crazy planet, we should do what we can to take care of it. Be good stewards of your resources. Recycle, reduce waste, go paperless, conserve water, use solar energy... All of these things will not only help the environment around you but end up saving your business money too! If you want to step this up a notch, then encourage your employees to carpool, use energy efficient vehicles and even consider riding their bikes. While this may make small differences in pieces, again over time this adds up and also encourages those around you and your employees to be encouraged to be good stewards as well.
Take Care of Your Area - While this may be as simple as picking up litter around your building you can use this idea to encourage people taking responsibility of their area and the actions that they take to make it better or worse. Consider taking a day to clean up the roads near your office, planting flowers, or keeping your parking lot clean. If you want to step this up a notch, your company can sponsor a road and get a fancy sign next to it with your name on it.
Advocate for Needy Children and Families - Whether we look overseas at orphans growing up on streets neglected and vulnerable, or we look to families in our own neighborhoods losing jobs and homes - there is need everywhere. You can advocate for these needs in a variety of ways. I once had a friend who would write a check every month for a hundred dollars and anonymously deliver it to a person that she may know directly or indirectly that was struggling in that month. What if your company purchased a grocery store gift card once per month and found a family struggling to meet bills and delivered it to them? Think about the impact this would make on your community. What if your company made a monthly donation to IVO ( a great NPO that we work with and know personally) and helped feed orphans in Uganda, Africa? How would you like to be known as the company helping to feed families? By doing this as an organization you are not only allowing for greater effect but creating a ripple effect with those involved in your organization. Talk about changing the world!
Advocate for Needy Animals - Who can resist a sweet little puppy who needs a home? This is an easy charity to get involved with because everyone you know will be jumping on the badwagon to help. What if your monthly email included a photo of a puppy who needs a home? What if you sponsored a free spay day to help prevent the overpopulation of street pets? What if you, as the business owner, adopted a rescue dog, and then brought them to work as the office mascot. Once everyone fell in love they would quickly learn the value of these "unwanted" pups and maybe adopt their own or encourage others to.
Be Good - Have you ever walked down a sidewalk with a smile on your face and noticed that everyone you passed turned their face in to a smile? I recall doing this as a teenager near my house with some friends to see how many people we could get to walk away smiling. Smiling is contageous and can even change a mood and someone's day. I have seen it happen. As a small business owner you are interacting with a lot of people and possibly changing their day for better or worse. Try to focus on making it better. Try to paste a genuine smile on your face. Be helpful, generous, courteous, and happy. You will see that the people around you will start following suit and before you know it you have changed their day and possbly your corporate culture. Think about them going home to their families with smiles on their faces and being helpful to those around them. This really is a great way to change the world, and I can promise you having worked with a wide variety of bosses, that the attitude of the big cheese can often ripple in to the attitude of the employees, clients, and those that are in contact with them.
Get Your Customers Involved - If you have partnered with a particular NPO or are making a specific cause a focus in your company then the clients will soon know this. Whether an employee mentions it or you are deliberate about supporting them publicly - who you support will be clear. What a great way to really amplofy your effect by getting your clients involved in your cause. Whether this means clicking a button to add a dollar or more to a total to donate to the cause, or if it is with your encouragement to volunteer with this group - you can find a creative way to get your clients involved in supporting these causes! In doing so - you will definitely be making the world a better place by setting an example of generosity and care.
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Kim Young is Founder, CEO, and a developer at Foo - a web development company based in Wesley Chapel, Florida. She can also be found on Google+. With over 16 years of experience as a web developer, Kim is excited to share with you tidbits that she has picked up along the way. Kim prioritizes continuing education and out of box thinking in order to bring the most valuable solution to Fooweb's clients.