This article was originally published on Entrepreneur.com
Your entrepreneurial venture can’t be successful in a vacuum. Whether you are a web-based company without local ties, a small business rooted in one neighborhood or a real estate company in the thick of many regions, you can take the lead on contributing to local communities in a number of ways.
Doing so will increase your visibility among potential customers and will also promote social good to enhance the community you are involved in. Investing some of your time and resources into improving the local quality of life can have a ripple effect and be a valuable part of your business mission as your company evolves.
Here are some of the most impactful ways to stay engaged with the local community and enhance the community as a whole.
1. Sponsor non-profit organizations in the community.
Whether you are affiliated with a non-profit organization through your own personal efforts as an entrepreneur, or are simply looking for new ways to give back, consider sponsoring a worthy organization as a company. You could join events, like Startups Give Back, to connect with businesses that need your company’s help.
Many local organizations are looking for company sponsors to cover the costs of major events and some administrative expenses. They will do their part to promote your generosity through their marketing efforts, which can help you get more visibility in the community. You can also promote the organization in your own marketing collateral as a major sponsor.
2. Incorporate volunteering in the company mission.
Make a passion for social good part of your company’s mission so you and your employees can give back to the community together. Whether you are organizing food drives, volunteering at a soup kitchen or building houses, volunteering can create a sense of kinship and also serve as a team-building activity.
Consider organizing group volunteer sessions with your employees and encouraging team members to share their volunteer contributions with the rest of the staff. Encouraging a spirit of volunteerism and giving back within your mission statement — and through ways you operate as a company — can be beneficial to both team members and the community at large.
3. Design a business model that gives back.
If you are in retail or any other type of product sales business, consider donating a portion of the profits of each sale automatically.
If you are in the service business, you could design a business model that gives a portion of the proceeds to a charity or other non-profit organization. The goal is to automate the donation to a non-profit so that all customers and clients are aware that a portion of their purchase ends up with a good cause.
If your business can organically incorporate community enhancement into its ethos, that’s even better. The real estate industry is a natural candidate for such efforts, as developers have hands-on experience with neighborhood development projects and can take input from community representatives.
As your business gains momentum, you should consider branching out to more than one charitable organization or community project to serve as a philanthropist. As writer Annie Pilon explains in this article, “When you give to your community, the community tends to give back to you.”
4. Contribute to the local economy.
Make a commitment to buy supplies and raw materials from local vendors and partner with local businesses for any services and other business-related purchases.
Your purchases and investments will contribute to the local economy and may prompt business owners you work with to recommend you to other contacts or customers. Establish strong relationships with these vendors and partners as you develop and build your company to develop a solid reputation.
Opening new businesses or building new properties or even green spaces, like parks, can enhance a community by drawing in foot traffic and tourism. New visitors will patronize local businesses, stimulating the economy.
5. Promote local businesses.
In addition to being an active participant of the local economy’s ecosystem, you can take the lead on promoting other local businesses through co-marketing efforts or simply through referrals.
Encourage your customers to patronize local businesses that complement your’s, and they may even do the same in kind. The goal is to create a sense of community and camaraderie among other business owners since you are all invested in selling and marketing to the same customers.
Whether you work in technology, real estate or food service, there are various ways you can connect with the local community through your entrepreneurial venture. Showing your support for non-profits and community organizations can help you build value, both within the organization as you encourage a spirit of volunteerism and philanthropy, and with your customers as you show you are invested in your local community’s quality of life and future.