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As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats. It’s easy to get caught up in keeping operations afloat and missing out on the opportunities that could help your business grow in your community.
Engaging with your community can help your small business in big ways—citizens are aware of the importance small businesses play in their communities and the pandemic has only made that more apparent. Here are some ways to grow your community and small business.
One of the easiest ways to engage with your community is through pro bono work. Pro bono is a great way to make connections, create relationships, and help others. Non-profits are often in need of services but may not have the funds to pay for them, so offering your services allows you to do what you do best while simultaneously helping and getting to know others in the community.
Likewise, small businesses often struggle with marketing and promotions due to a lack of resources, so the added visibility and word-of-mouth referrals generated by pro bono work can be a win-win for both your business and the community. Consumers will notice your support, and it will help build brand affinity that is rooted in your community’s values and beliefs.
One obvious, but often forgotten way of helping your community is by mentoring interns. High school and college students need experience to sharpen their skills and build their resumes. A 2014 study by Sociological Spectrum shows that college-educated residents are an asset for a community, and that locally-owned retailers are one of the major contributing factors in your community retaining these residents post-degree.
Hiring interns allows you to establish connections with local schools and universities, and volunteering your time allows you to build relationships with residents who live and will (hopefully) work alongside you in your community one day.
Of course, one of the easiest ways to help others is by making monetary donations. There are a multitude of ways to do this, including setting aside a percentage of your profits, allowing customers to round up their purchases, or even just including a button on your website so customers, if they’d like, can make donations with their purchase. Making a small change like this can go a long way, as Score.org reported in 2019 that 85% of consumers have a more positive image of a company who gives to charity.
Simply put, small businesses have options when it comes to building local brand affinity. Investing in your community can easily double as a channel of advertising for your business. Take some of these ideas and give local some love—your community will thank you by consuming your services.
Sterling National Bank is committed to helping communities and small businesses thrive. To learn more about how we’re helping to give back, visit snb.com/community.