TIPS FOR BUILDING A BUSINESS THAT GIVES BACK
1. Know your why
What’s the reason your business exists? What’s the long-term impact or legacy you wish to create? Knowing this is the first step in working out how your business can give back and the best possible charities or causes you will support. Perhaps you wanted more flexibility in your life after becoming a single parent, or perhaps you felt there was a gap in the market for a more ethically produced product. Maybe you were influenced by trauma in your past or perhaps you wanted to build something that would enable minority groups to have more of a voice. Whatever your why is, uncover it, understand it, share it and ensure however you choose to give back aligns with it.
2. Research the contenders
When it comes to charity partnerships, rushing in can cause long-term confusion for your customers, and financial loss for the business. Do your research. Is the charity you wish to partner with stable? Who else do they work with and how does your business align? What support (content, reporting, field trip access) can they give? How transparent is their practice (will your customers be able to genuinely see how their money has impacted the planet/people)? How do their business goals align with your own? Ideally, you want to forge a long-term partnership that’s beneficial to both parties.
3. Understand the numbers
The amount you may wish to donate or give back may not match the reality of your sales. Go in too large and you may be left financially vulnerable, go in too low and you may not be able to make the impact you desire. Ask youself, what does this figure look like today, and what does it look like five years from now? Is it sustainable? Work with an accountant or CFO to crunch the numbers so your donation and/or partnership makes sense and won’t leave your business open to instability. And remember, you can start small then scale as your business does. Giving back doesn’t always have to mean going big!
4. Invest in your brand
Thank You began purely as a water business, before offering additional product categories. This was only possible because they had invested in building a strong brand and loyal audience, who were devoted to the overall cause – “life-changing products” – rather than one specific product (water). Consider your messaging: is it about the people and the vision behind the brand or does it focus too heavily on one product line? If you were to pivot how would your customers react? A strong business is one that is able to carry their audience with them as they grow and adapt (even if that means dropping or changing offerings).
5. Walk the talk
If you’re aligned with a charity to empower women through education, what training and education opportunities do your own staff have access to? If you’re working with an environmental cause, how does your workplace wastage stack up? Well before launching any marketing or media around giving back, ensure you’re ‘walking the talk’ when it comes to your own business practices and processes. Aligning with a charity or cause will magnify scrutiny of your business, and you must be ready to answer any and all questions that your customers – and the media – will have.
Fiona Killackey is a business consultant, author, and mentor for My Daily Business Coach. You can sign up to her weekly email full of small biz insights and tips here or purchase her new ebook, all about having a great business year here.