Many Canadian small businesses proudly weave charity and volunteer work into the fabric of their businesses. To them, being a business owner means also being part of a local community. They believe it’s important to give back to that community whenever possible.
Does that sound like a good idea to you? Here are some ways you can get your small business involved in giving back.
Find the right organizations
Charities and causes that you can relate to and believe in are the best ones for you to spend your time and money on. Look for organizations that align with your company’s brand pillars. Consider charitable investments that are most in line with your company values and beliefs and make them a part of your corporate culture.
Depending on the level of commitment you’re comfortable with, there’s an option that’s right for your business. Some small businesses sponsor sports teams, a community event, or a community project. Others make financial contributions on an ongoing basis. Donations don’t have to break the bank, either – organizations such as Kiva offer loans for entrepreneurs in need, and lenders can contribute as little as $25.
If you’d rather donate your time, focus on your company’s strengths. If you’re an accounting firm, for example, you might help single parents or underprivileged families with filing taxes. A freelance web designer can help maintain the website of their local food bank. You can also host events, offer skills training, or simply spend a Saturday afternoon volunteering along with your employees.
We’ve all had an experience with a business’ policy, whether it be guidelines for returning that on-sale sweater you just bought, or rules about reserving tables in the fancy new wine bar in town. As consumers, we probably don’t think about them too much. But as small business owners, policies should be set as close to start-up as possible. Entrepreneurs can never be too prepared!
Types of small business policies
Some policies, like the return policy given in the example above, will come to mind fairly quickly (lest customers come back with a coffee-stained pair of pants they’d like to return – and get their money back). Others won’t be as obvious. Here are some policies you might consider for your small business:
Return policy. Can customers return merchandise? Used or unused? After how long? What do they get in return – money, store credit or simply another item from the store?
Dress code. Some high-end restaurants and lounges have dress codes in place to maintain a certain image. These dress codes usually stipulate a few things, such as no jeans or baseball caps. Of course, dress codes may also apply to your small business’ employees.
Sponsorship/charity policy. Many small businesses are approached to partner with another business or event in sponsorship. However, sometimes an entrepreneur just can’t spare the time, resources or money. In other cases, there may be a restricted dollar amount an entrepreneur can set aside for sponsorship or charitable donations per year. This policy can change as your small business changes.
HR policy. Human resource policies are set up internally. They outline things such as holidays, salaries, proper attire, sick days and termination. An HR policy will help employees understand what you expect of them, and will help you organize and strengthen your business. It also protects you legally in some areas.
Some of these policies could benefit from your lawyer’s advice. Others can be created on your own. Decide on these policies as early as you can, and stand behind them.
Do you have any other small business policies to add to our list?