How to get your business involved in the community: Giving back and gaining loyalty.

Seven tips to boost your business.

No one has to tell you: Small businesses are the economic backbone of our communities. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small and new businesses have been responsible for creating two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. over the last two decades. And, over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business today.1 In addition, people like to shop locally because they know doing so supports and strengthens the local economy,

As a small business owner, involvement in your community’'s activities gives potential customers another reason to visit you. You owe it to your community and your business to give back and get involved. Your personal involvement can help build loyalty and increase visibility, eventually making a positive impact on your bottom line. Here are seven ideas to help you get started.

  • Become a local expert. Whether you’re a contractor, an accountant, or the owner of a pet salon, your expertise is what builds trust among customers. If you’re known as the local “go-to” person on a topic—be it tax advice or puppy cuts—people will be more likely to come to you when they need help. Look for new ways to reach the community: Write articles for a local newspaper, host a local radio show or a Q&A on your town’s Facebook group, have a booth at a local street fair to answer questions, conduct a seminar or a how-to session right in your own shop. The possibilities are endless and your reputation will grow for the better.
  • Join your Chamber of Commerce. Becoming a member of your local Chamber can help you create connections with other area business owners—providing you with tools and resources to solve strategic issues, as well as gain new insights and ideas. Additionally, it can build credibility. In fact, according to a research study by The Shapiro Group, Inc. and Market Street Services,2 when consumers know that a small business is a member of their local Chamber of Commerce, they are 44% more likely to think favorably of it and 63% more likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future.
  • Support a local charity. Donate a percentage of your profits to a charity that’'s important to your local community, or volunteer your time to an organization. You may want to consider choosing a charity that fits your business focus. For instance, the owner of that pet salon may choose to support the local animal shelter, or a hardware store owner may consider supporting an organization that builds homes for veterans.

    You may want to help support efforts that especially impact members of the community, such as victims of a local fire—by hosting a fundraiser or a shop-a-thon, where a percentage of a day’s profits benefit that family. Additionally, you might consider being a drop-off location for collections such as Toys for Tots or a local food bank. Helping others, while gaining community exposure, is truly a win-win for all.
  • Sponsor a local sports team. From pee-wee soccer to Little League baseball to high school football, sports are the glue that helps communities bond together. Not only will you be supporting young athletes and healthy activities, but sporting events can provide you with a great opportunity for exposure—sometimes on a weekly basis or more.
  • Create a scholarship. Support academic excellence in your local community by creating a scholarship for a local student. You may consider setting up a scholarship that specifically supports students who are pursuing a career in your industry—such as law or accounting or the food service industry. Keep in mind, even a small fund can help a student pay for books or extra expenses.
  • Participate in “shop local” events. Be a local hero for your own business as well as other area businesses. Help create and market events that provide awareness about shopping locally, as well as stimulate the local economy. Look to for ideas about Small Business Saturdays, or brainstorm other opportunities such as sidewalk sales, a community “night out,” and more.
  • Host community meetings. From the Kiwanis Club to your local chapter of SCORE, paying for meeting space can often pose a hardship for community groups. Offer up space in your store or office to them. In addition to helping out your local community, you'’ll establish a positive relationship with the members of that particular group or club. You'’ll be top of mind when they need goods and services. An opportunity to get more involved may even present itself. They may look to you to be a guest speaker, or to act as a mentor.

Keep in mind, these are just the beginning. Your ideas can be as creative and unique as the community in which you serve. As a small business owner, you can count on us for support. If you have questions along the way, your New York Life agent is always here to help. Simply use the "Talk it through with an expert" tab, and an agent in your area will contact you at your convenience. Or click here to learn all the ways you can do business with us.

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