Small and medium sized businesses are the heart and soul of a community. Equally, the communities that support and are loyal to business are what allows that business to thrive and grow. It’s impossible to define which needs the other more.
Fundamentally your business is your community. No matter how you define that. Small businesses create jobs in their communities. They bring products and services into the area while offering up individuality and character that eventually becomes part of the community identity. On the other hand, no business can prosper in a vacuum. They rely on communities for growth, for resources and for their loyal customer base. Whichever side you’re looking at, it’s crucial that a business approaches its community contribution as fundamental to its survival and growth plans.
As a small business, reaching out into the community in any substantive way can feel daunting. Here are a few simple ways to start investing in your community ties:
Either individually or as a team, look into local organisations with which you can volunteer. It’s important that you can offer paid time off for your employees to do this. Ideally allow your employees to find a local organisation that they feel passionate about in order to encourage a long-lasting volunteering relationship.
You’ll find there are many local events taking place, whether at a general community level, within schools or youth organisations, and between local retailers and business providers. Find something that you can participate in. Perhaps you can sponsor a local sports team, or get involved in a local makers event? Whatever it is that allows your brand to overlap with community activities is a positive step.
Look around at other small local businesses and figure out if there are any potential collaborations to pursue. You may be able to streamline your overheads by sharing office space and human resources with another start up. Or perhaps you could look into marketing your products alongside a complimentary brand? Finding ways to create and foster collaborative relationships will deepen your ties to the community and broaden your reach through shared customer groups.
Join The Fight
Any local community will have issues that it is worried about or working towards. Look into what is happening in your community and join the fight where you can. Your business strength may act as a powerful voice in the argument to make change.
Communities want to lean on local businesses they can trust. Be consistent in how you operate. In the communications you put out and in the way you treat your customers. Amplify your customers success. Take an interest in local progress and developments, or chose a local charity to raise money for. Every step that reiterates your commitment to your community will cultivate strong relationships.
Small steps make long term results
Making small steps to deepen your community ties can only yield positive response. Firstly you’ll develop closer and stronger relationships not only with your customers but also with the businesses and community members operating around you. You’ll notice your employees feel more engaged when they understand they are part of a community that you are investing time and effort in. All the community integration you engage in will amplify your marketing efforts and increase you brand awareness. And finally every small effort will build long-term community trust and support that can only bring a positive impact over time.
It’s easy to imagine that we operate separate to the environment around us but when it comes to small businesses and their peripheral communities, the two are necessarily intertwined. Figuring out just how interdependent and how mutually beneficial the other can be is important, and building community integration into your long-term business strategy is only to be encouraged.
Whatever your business idea, whether it’s just something you’ve been mulling over or whether you’ve taken some steps on the entrepreneurial path already, we’d love to help. Read some of our Go For It Success Stories and get in touch. Our business experts will be delighted to hear from you and to talk you through everything you might need to know to move forward with your business concept.