Great Ideas for your Small Business:
Do Good for Your Community
One of the easiest ways to draw attention to your business is to do something good for your community. Small business owners across the country are coming up with terrific ways to contribute and make a positive impression at the same time. You don’t have to spend a lot of time or money on your project.
Here are some of my favorite ideas:
- If you have a store with foot traffic, collect food or clothing for the homeless or for your favorite charity.
- Ask your employees and their families if they will participate in a blood drive for the Red Cross or a local hospital.
- Donate your services—it’s easy. A dry cleaner in Ohio, for example, offered free dry cleaning to unemployed customers who needed clean clothes for job interviews. When someone got a new job, of course they became a steady, loyal customer for life.
- Join together with other business owners in your neighbor- hood to sponsor a trash pickup day or graffiti cleanup campaign. Ask a local paint store to donate paint and brushes in exchange for the publicity. A True Value hardware store in Mississippi provided supplies for the senior class to repaint the high school gym; it made the papers and kept the kids out of trouble for weeks.
- Ask city officials if you can plant trees or start a community garden.
- Check with your accountant about the tax advantages of donating excess inventory to a charitable organization. You can get rid of what you don’t need and take advantage of a tax break at the same time.
- If you own a restaurant and want to attract new patrons, host a fund-raising dinner for a local charity. A small Greek restaurant in Maryland hosted a dinner and gave away a free trip to Greece donated by a local travel agency. To liven things up, collect door prizes from other merchants and raffle them off at the dinner.
- If you really want to make a difference, create an apprentice- ship program and hire local high school students or welfare recipients to work part time at your company. Solid, on-the- job training can mean the difference between success and failure for a young or underemployed person. While many big corporations are doing this, small companies can do the right thing just as easily.
Once you’ve chosen a project, be sure to write a lively press release and send it to your local newspapers, radio, and television stations. The media are always looking for upbeat local feature stories.