How to drive growth with purpose.

How to drive growth with purpose.

I recently led a seminar focused on helping small businesses get more from the good they do. All of the participating businesses were relatively new — ranging from those just starting to those less than two years old. The common theme among them was how to link purpose (a way to positively impact society) to their businesses. So I walked them through our Five-Step Process that covers how to get more from businesses’ contributions, and we crafted strategies to align community investment with their business objectives.

According to Capital One’s Fall 2019 Small Business Growth Index (select ‘Community Impact’ tab), an impressive 36% of small business owners say their companies have mission-driven or community-impact initiatives. Small business owners, such as the ones I met at my seminar, are ingrained in the community and are advocates for promoting important local causes. Their investments in the community can also double as investments in their businesses. To ensure this is the case, businesses’ contributions need to be three things:

  1. easily visible for consumers to find, review and explore;
  2. authentic to who they are as businesses and the value they offer to the market and
  3. transparent about what is being given and the social impact or results generated from those investments. Don’t just say what you did, show them!

At seedership, we work with small, local businesses to help them differentiate based on what they give back and its impact by making their contributions measurable and easily accessible. Although giving money is always appreciated, many small businesses with huge hearts run on tight budgets. They give the equivalent of hundreds to thousands of dollars in numerous volunteer hours and in-kind goods/services. Posting your good deeds on social media is important, but they easily get lost or cluttered as they drop in priority in news feeds. Do you think customers will take the time to manually search for your community-related posts among a trail of posts on promotions, sales, events and products?

Nine out of 10 consumers expect a business to use its resources to do more than just make a profit. They expect them to help improve the community and hold them responsible for sharing their results. That means your customers are voting with their wallets and rewarding companies that are making their community investments visible and transparent.

Growing your business while also doing good for the community can go hand in hand. An investment in the community is also an investment in your business. Here are two quick tips to help you get more from the good you do:

  • Track and Measure: You track your expenses, sales, inventory and so forth. Do you track what you give back? We have worked with businesses that were giving away thousands of dollars and didn’t even know it. Every minute, product or service you donate has a value. Track your contributions so you know the impact.
  • Connect and Share: Customers want to support businesses that are making a difference in the community and who genuinely care. Help them understand what you do and engage them in conversations about it. Sharing the good works you do creates an opportunity to build deeper connections with your customers about issues that matter to them.

Ultimately, running your business comes down to the bottom line. You must be financially viable to keep the doors open and have the opportunity to devote time and resources to doing good. By taking a profit and purpose approach, giving back can become a more sustainable, year-round effort that is embedded in your identity and operations and lets you achieve a meaningful impact on the minds and hearts of your employees, customers and community.

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