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Good Deeds

Giving back to your community can reap positive results for you and your business. Chris Lorelli, owner of Cycle Surgeon, a bicycle shop in Camarillo, California, learned that firsthand seven years ago, when he inherited a dozen dilapidated bikes from customers and friends. Rather than scrap them for parts, Lorelli refurbished and distributed the bikes to needy children and adults. He now re-furbishes and donates up to 400 used bikes every year.

Want to do your own good deeds? Select a project or a cause that relates to your product, service or customers. A bakery owner could donate day-old goods to food programs at local churches, for example. A computer consultant could volunteer to design a Web site for a nonprofit agency.

While the sky's the limit on good works for your community, it's best to start small, with simple efforts requiring minimal time and capital outlay. This gives you a risk-free way to acquaint yourself with a project and determine exactly how much you can handle.

Once your community project is up and running, let everyone know. Tout your good deeds on a sign in your store, in a news release to your local media and through an announcement at your next business or trade association meeting.

You'll feel good about yourself, and your customers will feel good about you. "If people don't know us because of our top-quality products and customer service," says Lorelli, "they know us because of our bike donation program."

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