On 18 July each year, the world celebrates Nelson Mandela International Day. This is the perfect time to think about the impact your small business can have on your local community.
Because no entrepreneurial venture can be successful in a vacuum, entrepreneurs must take the lead on contributing to local communities.
While small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures are critical in creating new jobs, these establishments also benefit local economies, personal relationships and help build the community.
Here are some ways small businesses make a positive impact on their local communities.
Add to the community identity
Every business in an area adds to the unique character of the community: think of Melville in Johannesburg or Long Street in Cape Town. It is important to transform this special character into a business advantage so customers are willing to travel from other areas to purchase one-of-a-kind local products and experience the vibrant look and feel and charm of your business area.
Promote community involvement
Small business owners and entrepreneurs are an integral part of the communities where they live and work. Very often, entrepreneurs become involved in their communities by sponsoring local sports or school teams, starting/joining a local chamber of commerce, participating in charitable events and sharing their knowledge and experiences with people in the community. They are often rewarded with a return on investment through local marketing and visibility in the community.
Boost the local economy
When members of the community shop locally, they ensure the local economy grows and keeps money in the pockets of business owners in the area. This can make significant strides in improving the community and helping the area attain financial independence, by pumping more of the profits into economic development in the area.
Entrepreneurs are known for creating jobs. Creating jobs for members of the local community uplifts the community economically and also creates a feeling of community, a shared vibrance and closeness among those in the area. Employing locals will also encourage the community to support their local businesses.
Skills development and training
If there is a skills shortage in the local community, training is very important. Business owners should focus on upskilling existing employees and offering opportunities for trainees and interns. Business owners should think about encouraging the next generation by exhibiting at career fairs at local schools or visiting schools to talk about their industry, job opportunities and the skill sets required.
Fuel entrepreneurial spirit
Small businesses are the product of the business owner’s entrepreneurial spirit. By starting a business, entrepreneurs take control of their future and serve as an inspiration to those around them, proving success and prosperity are possible. In order to promote local entrepreneurial spirit, entrepreneurs can share their experiences and expertise with others in the community and assist them to set up their own businesses. This will encourage continued small business development in the area.
Encourage healthy competition
Everyone knows small businesses have to stand out to survive. By being better than their competitors, businesses thrive. Having several small businesses in an area, all striving to be unique, innovative, and better than the rest, can result in a healthy marketplace and well-served customers.
Cultivate relationships and co-market
Small business owners can form relationships with people in the community, as well as among each other. These relationships and the sharing of expertise and experiences can contribute to long-term economic growth in the area. Sharing information, co-marketing and word-of-mouth referrals can also lead to increased exposure for local businesses.
NOTE: Social media and other digital communication tools can contribute to this, in a time where social distancing has become critical.
By making volunteering part of a business’s mission, employees will be encouraged to give back to their community. By volunteering at a soup kitchen, animals shelter or in the community, entrepreneurs can create a sense of kinship and team spirit among employees, as well as in the community.
Champion social responsibility
Socially responsible business owners recognise the importance of being community-minded. By operating with a conscience, they show their concern for the environment and the planet as a whole, as well as the health of the community where they are located. Businesses should ensure they do not contribute to excessive waste, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and chemical contamination of the ground or water.