No one needs to tell you how difficult it is to get your business off the ground. You’ll take all the help you can get. But once you do start to get there, it can be incredibly easy to forget about everyone else.
Getting involved in your local community can have a powerful impact on your business. Sure, we all love the warm feeling we get from helping others but there are plenty of other ways that getting involved in your community can help your business such as:
- Creating awareness of your business/brand
This one’s self explanatory. Getting involved in your local community is a great way to get exposure in your area.
- Building trust with clients/customers
Show your current and potential customers and clients that you care, not just about your business but about your community and the people and places that helped you get where you are.
- Giving you plenty to
You’ll find you have loads to share once you start to get more involved in your community. Take photos and Tweet from events you attend, hold local competitions, spread the word about other local startups and your blog will become a ‘go to’ source for local people interested in your industry.
So how can you get involved in your local community? Don’t worry, you don’t have to send your staff out litter picking just yet (although that would be a nice thing to do), there are plenty of ways to show you care…
1. Events and Sponsorship
Keep an eye out for industry-specific events happening near you and offer to sponsor them. You don’t need to give a fortune, just offer what you can in return for a shout out, a mention in promotional materials or maybe the chance to distribute your own promo items.
Host your own events. We hold regular hack nights open to local developers who want to come along and hack away at something cool. For the cost of a few pizzas and some beer, we’re able to support the developer community and scout out potential new team members.
Send company representatives to local industry events. Lots of events ask for local experts to put on lightning talks about their industry. Spread the word, do some networking and teach others all at the same time!
2. Share your expertise
We wrote a post a while ago about what work experience students can teach you about your business.
Sharing your skills and expertise is a great way to show that you actively care about the future of your industry. Not only that but you can learn a huge amount about your business from enthusiastic outsiders. Who knows, a fresh perspective could be just what your business needs!
Here’s a few other ways you can share your skills with your community:
- Volunteer to talk at schools and colleges
- Take on University placement year students or hire apprentices
- Hold talks at your office for people interested in your industry
- Write guest articles for local magazines, newspapers and blogs
3. Share your resources
If your business uses a lot of gadgets, you could consider making these available to other small businesses, who may, in turn, have resources they’d allow you to use. This is a great way to support other startups with the possibility of them supporting you.
You could even consider allowing members of the public to access your resources. Take a look at this article about establishing an open device lab from Smashing Magazine.
4. Support local charities and causes
Supporting a local charity is a great way to show you care. In return for a regular sponsorship, you may even be allowed to use their logo on your website and show your clients or customers what good causes their hard earned cash is going to.
There are plenty of ways to get creative while supporting charities. We created TeeZilla which allows anyone to upload t-shirt designs and get their friends and families to vote on them. The design with the most votes get printed on t-shirts which get sold with proceeds going to charity.
You could even get involved in local causes, be they preserving local buildings, opposing disruptive plans or keeping local schools open. But remember to consider whether supporting this cause is likely to harm your reputation. Sometimes it’s better to keep your personal opinion just that – personal.
5. Support your local economy
Put your profit back into your local economy and help others grow their businesses. Maybe you could buy fruit for the office from local greengrocers, buy office equipment from local suppliers or donate your old equipment to budding startups.
Your clients might not notice your efforts but local businesses will feel the benefits. And we never know when we might need a hand from them…
How does your business support your local community?