Caring for a Cause can be Good for your Business

Caring for a Cause can be Good for your Business

Many business owners I encounter say they want to “give back” and will start doing so after they …hit it big. I’m sure many of them mean what they say and I’m equally sure that many, many of them will never get to the point where what they’ve achieved is enough to start “giving back”.
Should You make A Charitable Cause Part of Your Business Model Instead of Just a Part of Your Hopes?

There are many benefits to a business if they make a serious and genuine effort to support a charitable cause on a consistent and ongoing basis. A few well known businesses do this and many other lesser known companies do as well. Business charity is not only good for your’s good for your business. Never underestimate the power of a good business plan.

The best known of these companies is Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Foundation. Every year Ben & Jerry’s contributes a percentage of their profits to the foundation and distributes grants based on a complex process of applicatsions and evaluation. What they do is not nearly as important as how they do it. Everything you see from Ben & Jerry’s references their commitment to this charitable cause. It’s on the ice cream containers, the Ben & Jerry website and all promotional materials. Why does Ben & Jerry’s do what they do?
First, I think they truly care about giving back and making a difference in communities.

Second, it’s great for employees. Nearly everyone wants to be part of something bigger than themselves.

Third…it’s great for business. Supporting a company that is trying to do more than just earn a profit is emotionally satisfying for a large percentage of people.

Can every business do what Ben & Jerry’s does? Probably not but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything. Give this some thought, how much is it worth to have employees who care just a little more? Or customers who respect what you do a little more? Or suppliers who respect what you’re trying to do?

It has been my experience that, like many things in business and life, getting started is the most difficult part. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some ideas on how to start, this worked for us:

   Be genuinely committed, no faking it! – Make the commitment that supporting a cause is part of your business, everyday..not just when it’s convenient or when you’re rolling in the money.

   Pick a Cause You or Your Employees have or can develop an emotional attachment to – In my business we support two causes every year. One is Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. We support this cause because an associate in our firm is very committed to this organization. He sits on the board and works tirelessly at fund raising for this terrible but under-funded disease. Our other cause is the Pulmonary Hypertension Association for whom we sponsor the annual fundraisers The Woodlands CrawPHish Festival. We chose this effort because a local attorney and friend of our firm, whose family has been touched in a very personal way by this disease, is very active and works year-round to raise money to cure adolescent pulmonary hypertension. In addition, this Crawfish Festival is great fun and we invite employees, clients and referral sources for a great day.

   Commit to a Financial Contribution – The tendency with many is to view charitable donations as the “extra” money available in a good year. Although any contribution is good, it is better for your business and the charity if you make a financial commitment and stick to it. Why is it good for the business?

   Market Your Charitable Efforts Consistently – By making your financial commitment without fail, you can embed that in your marketing efforts. Market your support on your website and other marketing materials that you are producing anyway…there’s no additional costs. As an example, I have recently been invited by a financial advisory firm to a wine event by Tithe Wines. The mission of Tithe Wines is to make great wines AND contribute 10% of their revenue (not profits.. 10% of top line revenue, that’s a commitment) to Living Water which is a charity with a mission to provide clean, safe water in poverty stricken places around the world. Had Tithe wines not partnered with a financial adviser who I know to present this event, it is highly unlikely I would have ever heard of this wine. Now I get to try some new wines and help bring clean water to people that need it. Tithe Wines is doing their part by supporting a great cause and I’m happy to help them do so.

With business charity doing good can go hand in hand with a business doing well…In fact it can help give you an edge. Start with your employees, find a cause they can connect with then build that commitment into your business plan and day-to-day activities.

Small business owners can make a difference in their communities and can make a big difference over a long period of consistent charitable contributions. Get involved, do good.

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Time to Look at Smart Growth for Your Small Business?

Business owners often get caught in the squeeze between seeing opportunity to grow but not having the resources to hire people or get more space. Managing a small business needs to be a creative process.

If you find yourself in this position (and if not now you certainly will if you grow) spend a few minutes looking at a 3rd party fulfillment service. Think of it as an expansion that you can make without hiring people or signing a big lease.

Take a look here. 

What is CRM and does my small business need it?

Hard as it is to imagine, there was a time not terribly long ago when a sales or service person for a small business would go out into the field without a PDA or Smart Phone—or any phone at all. The reason for the current ubiquity of the communication devices in small business is obvious: it makes customer service or the new term, Customer Relationship Management  (CRM), easier and more effective. The success of any small business is built around this engine and the latest innovation in the field of CRM is also the most powerful yet seen, primarily because it is among the simplest-to-implement of all emerging information technologies. We speak, of course, of Cloud-Based Solutions.
Until recently any information gathered by, say, a serviceman sent into the field would have to be relayed through a series of data channels, each administered by an individual working within his or her own cataloging system, until it eventually found its way to the appropriate sales rep who is ultimately responsible for the client’s satisfaction and continuing patronage of the business. Meanwhile, the client is already calling the rep and asking about progress on the issue. And the rep has no idea there was an issue to begin with.
Now, due to advances in Cloud-Computing—a networking principle based simultaneously in the local and the virtual world—the sales rep has been alerted instantly when the client contacted customer service, and also has received real-time updates from the serviceman in the field—all via apps on mobile devices and simple web interfaces.
Among the most compelling advantages of the Cloud-Based CRM Solutions offered by companies such as is the ease-of-implementation and low cost for even the smallest of small businesses. In the case of, for instance, a pool maintenance company where a staff of only a few individuals act as both the customer-service and sales teams while collectively handling their client base, a Cloud-Based CRM System would effectively sync every client’s contact information to the entire staff—all through a simple web-based interface on both the office’s computer and each employee’s mobile device—while providing appropriate notifications for any due follow-up calls, at the same time indicating any pertinent information on recent service needs. Additionally, redundancies in calls to clients will be eliminated and all interactions with the client will be streamlined and tailored to the particulars of that relationship. There will no longer be any waiting for the phones to ring; rather, the staff is now guided along a more proactive path, armed with all the personalized information to make the calls extremely productive. Meanwhile, the maintenance team of the company will be able to go on-site with the entire history of the job at immediate hand, reducing the likelihood of unnecessary diagnostics on, say, a problematic motor, or time wasted returning to the office to find a replacement valve that had already been identified as due for an upgrade.
Unlike previous technological breakthroughs that were meant to—and often did—revolutionize customer service, like the barely-navigable automated phone systems that are widely-known to increase a client’s dissatisfaction with a company, Cloud-Based Solutions have the ability to re-humanize client interaction while, at the same time, making the small business more nimble and responsive. And, importantly, scalability is scarcely a concern—just as the small business grows in response to its improvements in CRM, the Cloud organically grows along with it. Since there are no investments in local servers or hardware to be replaced, since there are no IT employees to be hired, since there is no local software to be updated or reconfigured, it could be easily said that the Cloud is the simplest, most natural technological innovation small business CRM has ever seen. 

Is the small business owner world upside down?

This post falls under the category of “what the heck is going on”!

The following is from a small business consultant who talks to small business owners several times a week and has done so for about 10 years. Their name is being with held for obvious reasons.

They say, many of the following are found to be true for abut 75% of small business owners:

  • Business owners who sleep very well ….probably shouldn’t.
  • Business owners think because their employees don’t complain the employees are happy
  • Business owners whose employees complain blame it on the government
  • Business owners personal spending is often unrelated to their personal income, some spend a lot more than they make and some spend a lot less…..very few are break-even
  • Business owners who are chronically behind in paying suppliers are often right on time replacing their boat.
  • For every one minute a business owner spends talking to an employee (shouting instructions doesn’t count) they spend 54 minutes talking to sales people about a new copier.
  • Whenever a customer says “your price is too high” the business owner believes it.
  • Whenever a customer says “your price is too high” the business owner grumbles about how his competitors are losing money.
  • A business owner would rather pay 5% more to a vendor than lose his invitation to the vendor’s hunting trip.
  • For every one minute a business owner spends getting expert advice they spend 92 hours giving it.