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How Entrepreneurs Can Use Community Service For Growth Community service can be a great way for entrepreneurs to get involved in their communities and make a difference while also growing their businesses. Here's how.

By Frederik Bussler Edited by Chelsea Brown

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Many companies start as a way to fill a need or resolve a problem and build their success around helping to make people's lives easier. This means that community service is a core value for many leaders, whether they realize it or not. It takes a special type of strength to lead, and this strength can often be found in dedication to larger goals.

The power of community service became apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic. While the pandemic forced many businesses to shut their doors, some entrepreneurs found ways to pivot and use their skills to help those in need.

For example, After-School-All-Stars, a national nonprofit that provides free after-school programs, quickly adapted its offerings to provide meals, distance learning, mental health support and more for students and families. Another example is Unilever, the consumer goods giant, who provided soap, sanitizer, bleach, ventilators, food and more to areas in need.

Related: The Power of Giving Back: How Community Involvement Can Boost Your Bottom Line

Smaller businesses, too, chipped in around the world. For instance, global manufacturing company, NJF Worldwide, became one of the leading providers of PPE to the U.S. government during the Covid-19 crisis. Founder Ryan Leonard, who began the firm shortly after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, brought with him the value of "selfless service."

Several other recent events have also shown how important community service can be for entrepreneurs. In the aftermath of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, many business leaders have been vocal about the need for systemic change. And in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the freight company, Meest-America, shifted its business to supporting Ukrainians.

What these examples have in common is that they demonstrate how community service can be used as a tool for growth. When entrepreneurs dedicate themselves to helping others, they open up new opportunities for themselves and their businesses. Acting on core values can help build a loyal community of consumers and create an engaged workforce ready to work towards common goals. It can also help you strengthen your leadership skills and discover new opportunities that can grow your business significantly.

Related: How Growing Businesses Can Prioritize Community Involvement

Building a community around your brand

When it comes to encouraging brand loyalty, creating a community around shared values is essential. In a 2017 survey by Cone Communications, 87% of consumers said they would purchase a product because the company advocated for an issue they cared about. Also, 75% said that they would refuse to purchase a product if they found out that the company advocated for issues contrary to their beliefs.

Whether it's a community in your local area or a community that comes together around a shared issue, service can help you build a brand identity around your values. In the case of NJF Worldwide, Leonard shared in a CEO Weekly article that he makes sure his community can always benefit from his business. He makes sure to share his success, donating to local charities and sponsoring local non-profits.

A commitment to service can help you become a leader, not only in your business but in your community. It can also boost visibility and brand awareness, making your company stand out from the competition through its responsibility and action. It can even help you find partnerships and business opportunities that align with your values.

Related: We Offer Time Off to Volunteer as a Unique Perk -- But It's Also Good for Business

Create a positive workplace culture

While community service is an essential part of connecting with your customers, it can also be a great way to build community inside of your company as well. The Great Resignation has revealed a desire for purpose that many employees have, one that they are willing to sacrifice their income and career opportunities for.

One of the best ways to create a workplace that is engaging and fulfilling for your employees is to focus on your core values. When employees are working for a company that shares their values, they will be more able to see the purpose in their career and work for their shared goals.

While community service may come naturally to many leaders, it's essential to do it with thought and intention. Thinking about community service as a part of your business strategy will allow you to grow your business and be ready with solutions when your community needs you most.

Frederik Bussler

Marketing Consultant

Frederik Bussler is a marketing consultant for a wide range of businesses from startups to F500. Bussler is a published author and contributes to publications like VentureBeat, Forbes, Hacker Noon, and more. As a public speaker, he’s presented for audiences including IBM, Nikkei, and Slush Tokyo.

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