I am in the process of reading “Start Something That Matters,” a book by Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS shoes. I am a fan of the shoes – between my daughters and I we have six pair – but I am also a fan of the cause, and Blake’s story. As I have been ramping up my business, I have been soul searching and trying to figure out how I can use it to do something that would serve a greater purpose than just providing an excellent service for my clients and generating income for my family. I believe that we have a God-given responsibility to help those in need, and there are countless opportunities for us to do so, both as individuals and as business owners. The important thing in any scenario is to find a cause that you are passionate about, and incorporate that into the core of your business. If it really means something to you, then finding ways to further the cause will come naturally. There are so many great quotes that I have earmarked in Blake’s book – quotes that have inspired me as I decide how I will use my business to help others. Here is one of my favorites:
When you live your story, you don’t have to pretend to be someone you’re not. You can just be yourself. It’s been said that there’s nothing more dangerous than someone who has nothing to lose—and it’s true in business too. When you are living your story, it means your actions and your mission are the same…
We all have a story. For small business owners, it is likely some part of your story that provided the motivation for you to take the risk and go out on your own. When you reach a point in your business where things are easier and you are enjoying success, giving back can mean helping others who are just stepping into the shoes that you wore when you first started. What good is success if you can’t use it to help others to be successful as well? So as you build your business, figure out how you can use it to build other people up at the same time. You will create more than just a company – you will leave a legacy.
Are you a company that gives, or one that truly invests in helping others? Many companies give money to charities and provide opportunities for their employees to donate, but fewer actually invest substantial time in doing good or make it a routine part of their culture. Please don’t get me wrong – corporate giving is a wonderful and much needed thing, but if we are being honest, as companies isn’t our giving sometimes like dropping an occasional dollar in the cup of a homeless person? Of course we do it to help, but we do it because it makes us feel better too, and that’s where it ends.
So, why not take it a step further? Why not provide your employees with regular time to invest in something? Not only will this affirm your commitment to giving back, but it will also empower your employees to make a difference. Within a company, being united in an effort to do good for others can break down barriers and create camaraderie. It can boost employee morale and lead to higher retention. Here are a few ways to create a culture of giving:
Giving is good, but investing is better.