Community Building Ideas for Small Business Owners
Small businesses are much more than just important contributors to the economy, they also serve as hubs of their communities by contributing the unique social and cultural landscapes of their environments. Building up a sense of community around a small business is a great way to make sure that not only are people aware of the business and choosing to reward it with their patronage, but also supporting it on a deeper level, integrating it with their fundamental perception of what makes their neighborhood special. Generally, people like the idea of supporting small businesses, as shown by the success of buy local campaigns across the country. It is important that business owners understand and harness this goodwill in order to play on one of the intrinsic edges that they have when going up against larger corporate competition.
What are some ways that business owners can begin to build a sense of community? Apart from coordinating with other small businesses towards the creation of a buy local campaign in their area, there is plenty that an individual business owner can do to turn their business into a community hub themselves. For example, sponsoring an event or a little league team is one way to get your business’s name associated with community events. Another idea is to create your own event or one in tandem with another local business that celebrates an aspect of your local culture. Examples of this could be holding a theme week at your business with decorations and offers that hinge on a central, community focused theme. Another possible idea is creating a fundraiser, donating a share of your profits for a set period to a local cause of your choice. Or you could combine all of these elements into a large, community wide celebration.
When planning larger scale events, be in contact with local authorities to ensure that you do not require permits, and if you do, that you take appropriate steps to get them. When your business is planning something big, you need to make sure that you are not violating any zoning laws or creating a disturbance, lest you make the community building exercise that you spent time and energy planning into something that actually vilifies your business by breaking local laws. Not only is contacting local government important in order to make sure everything that you are planning is legal, it can also help in the event that local governments are interested in promoting or sponsoring part of your community outreach.
What is a business’s role in their community? Apart from providing the services entailed by their industry, a business has the potential to be much more than simply a service provider in the context of a neighborhood. It can be a hub of community news, as well as a safe place where people trust in the level of service and the quality of the relationships that they can build.
Photo Credit to oatsy40 on Flickr