3 Simple Things You Can Do to Help Your Business and Your Community at the Same Time
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
We live in strange times.
It's hard to forecast what the next day will look like, let alone the next quarter. As business owners, we like to think we thrive in uncertainty, but for most of us, the opposite is true. With some small business across the United States losing 25% or more in revenue, or even closing outright, due to COVID-19 and the current recession (our hyper-politicized climate doesn't help either).
Maybe you don’t know what to do. Or maybe you do, but you feel hesitant to act. Or maybe you’re concerned about the public perception of your decisions. Fear not. Here’s how to transcend the noise and uncertainty, based on examples of businesses both big and small leading the way.
1. Support local causes
Alex Ratacyzk has been a freelance photographer for a decade now but has worked exclusively with corporate clients and media. Despite the hyper-politicized, part recession, part pandemic we’re in the midst of, Ratajczyk made an unusual choice: he started his own business, ARAT ART.
While some saw hysteria, Ratacyzk saw opportunity. To him, it was a unique opportunity to start a conversation and connect with his community — and potential customers — in a meaningful way.
He immersed himself in the first day of New York City protests, documenting what he saw, and sold the framed fine art prints on a Shopify store, donating 100% of the profits to grassroots causes that are helping with everything from criminal justice reform to feeding the homeless.
What local causes can you support that make a difference in the community you live or work in? Before you pledge your support, search the nonprofit on CharityNavigator to see their rating.
2. Be mission-driven
Being mission-driven as an entrepreneur means to run your company in pursuit of a greater purpose, often for the good of humanity as a whole. And if there’s any company that exemplifies this, it’s Patagonia. In the past, they’ve gone as far as telling customers not to buy their jackets, all because they want to minimize consumption and environmental waste.
Now, they’ve drawn another hard line in defense of their mission, suspending Facebook and Instagram advertising. So, why the hard line with Facebook and Instagram? "For too long, Facebook has failed to take sufficient steps to stop the spread of hateful lies and dangerous propaganda on its platform," said Cory Bayers, Patagonia's head of marketing in a series of tweets Sunday. “We will pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram, effective immediately, through at least the end of July, pending meaningful action from the social media giant.”
Patagonia’s revenues grow every time it amplifies its social mission. What mission or cause can your company get behind that grow profits while also making a difference?
3. Do what’s best
Five months ago when I started Talking The Talk, my social skills project, I had no idea just how much demand there would be. Thousands of subscribers later, I was at a crossroads. I was in the midst of creating a course when I noticed everything was becoming polarized. It was then I realized everyone should have access to what I was making, not just students or subscribers.
So I decided to release my listening course for free at an initial loss to the business. But the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and has led to more revenue than had I released it outright. All because I took a stand, made a tough short-term call that was better in the long run.
What tough calls can you make to show your support for the people who need you most right now?
Ground yourself in doing good
During times like these, when so much is uncertain, focus on the basics, like supporting local causes, developing your mission and doing what’s best for others. It may hurt in the short-term, but in the long run, doing what's best–not what's expedient–will win the hearts and minds of consumers; consumers who will help navigate your business through the uncertainty and sustain it through the ups and downs.