The holidays are a good time to remember that not only is your house your home, but the wider community--your friends, clients and associates--is your home base.
If you're like many of my readers and workshop members who feel working from home is isolating, let me suggest getting out to help others as a joyous way of "making a life while making a living" (my theme song for 30 years).
A donation of time, materials or "intellectual capital" can be your way of saying "I love being a trusted member of the community. I brought in an abundant crop this year, thanks to your support. Now I'm throwing a big picnic to share with old friends, as well as people I haven't met yet." There are many forms that "picnic" can take. Whether you give in the form of a high-profile donation or secretly build a college fund for a deserving kid, working independently to improve the spirit of your community is truly moving forward by giving back.
You can relate your generosity to your business by donating your consulting expertise or offering materials for free, for example. Also consider contributing in ways completely unrelated to your business, such as visiting hospitalized children or adults--you don't have to be a sports figure or a Hollywood celebrity to be appreciated at a bedside.
And if your humility or shyness makes you feel uncomfortable being in the spotlight, consider pairing up with another small business that compliments your product or service, or with some friends. Turn community service into a team sport.
Serving your community beyond commercial transactions contributes to the world in which you, your family and friends live. Simple acts of generosity make others smile more, suffer less and realize you're a welcome part of their town--or a real part of their lives.
And when your last decoration is put away, reflect on this: Doing good during the holidays fits right in with the spirit of the season; serving year-round makes you outstanding. Selfless acts are always memorable, whether performed by professionals, tradespeople, retirees or young people. The old-fashioned word for community says it all: commonwealth.
Now allow me to thank you. Send me a one-page story about how you give back to the community. With permission, I'll report the most interesting and unique stories in this column.
Since many of us say the most important reason we became an entrepreneur was to gain freedom, the motto from the Round Table of Camelot is one we should remember: "In serving each other, we become free."
Let me hear from you!
Home office workshop leader and author Jeff Berner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org