It's a good time to be a small business owner in America. While corporate America has been steadily downsizing, small businesses have leveraged new technology and favorable lending conditions to create job growth and higher sales. There are roughly 28 million small businesses in America, and they account for 54% of all U.S. sales. In other words, small business has a big impact. Still, while small business may be insulated against many of the global market troubles that affect larger companies, staying innovative is integral to long-lasting success. As the business landscape continues to change and evolve, social responsibility and community involvement could improve small business.
Community involvement could help create loyal customers. Modern consumers are sophisticated. Social media has given consumers the ability to influence the buying decisions of others. A Facebook "like" goes a long way in generating business. So what do modern consumers look at when deciding what to buy and who to buy it from? A study by Cone Communications and Echo Research found that 82% of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop. In other words, customers want the world to be a better place. They are more likely to be loyal to a business that has some type of social responsibility platform, whether it's a restaurant that uses locally sourced ingredients or a store that gives donations to a local church or animal shelter.
Community involvement could help create loyal employees. Holding on to employees can be challenging for some employers. Many employees are increasingly willing to jump ship, seeking financial incentives and additional compensation at other companies. Maintaining good morale could help employee retention, and good morale can been found in other places besides a bonus check. One way small businesses might create loyal employees is to send them out in the community to volunteer.
Community involvement may help distinguish your small business from the competition. You want your small business to stand out. But when there are millions of small businesses in America, this is a tall order. Meaningful community involvement is a way for you to get your brand out there and attract customers, and it's also how you set your business apart. Whether your small business is sponsoring local events, raising money for charities, participating in community improvement projects, or providing free space for artists and artisans, finding a cause or contribution could help boost your bottom line.
Community involvement may help extend small business networks. Community involvement could create a domino effect of change and opportunity. Networking is about getting your brand out there, but more importantly it's about meeting other small business owners and entrepreneurs. Business networks can be built by having a presence in the community. They can be created by cultivating a grass roots environment where opportunities and prospects exist because of teamwork.