Mississippi News

Lewis: Making your small business a community partner

By Don Lewis, abilitylabs.com 

As a small business owner, you know how important it is to have a thriving community supporting you. A community that’s healthy keeps the small businesses that operate within them healthy, too. Giving back to the community that supports you is not only good for them; it’s good for you, too. 

Serving the Underserved Areas of Your Community

Begin with partnering with organizations that serve the underserved areas and the people who live in them. These can be groups like Habitat for Humanity, The Urban League, or The Salvation Army. Also, schools in underserved parts of your community usually need help with bringing more technology into the classrooms, like computers, tablets, and software. 

Hold job training and development skills workshops that teach people the skills they need to work not just at your business but across the whole community. Offer free courses in resume-making, and interviewing skills, since these are important for those looking for employment. The results can help grow the employment numbers in the entire area. 

Supporting Local Suppliers

Spend as much of your money as you can locally by buying produce from local farmers’ markets, using local professionals to design your website, and furnishing your offices with community office suppliers rather than big box chain stores. By doing so, you’re putting more money into the pockets of the people in your community, giving them more money to spend on local businesses, including yours. 

You can also save money on shipping costs by buying locally. And local suppliers are oftentimes less expensive than their big brothers. And your local businesses are hiring local workers and using local suppliers, creating a whole circle of community support. 

Practicing Sustainability

Make sure you’re recycling and composting your waste. Then use packaging used from recycled materials. Also, reduce your energy consumption by using energy-efficient lighting and appliances. Install energy-saving devices like smart bulbs and switches, energy-conserving thermostats, and smart blinds and window coverings that respond to the environment automatically. 

You can even install solar panels to reduce your carbon footprint. There are tax breaks and incentives for businesses that want to install solar panels. Check with your local solar energy supplier since they’ll have the most up-to-date information.  

If You’re Just Starting Your Small Business

The first place to begin in starting your own small business is by writing a business plan. This will help you see all the steps you need to take to bring your business from an idea and a name to a fully operational company. The business plan will also guide you through the steps of marketing and financing.

Your plan should also detail your business structure. For instance, an LLC can help protect your personal assets should your business suffer any financial setbacks. To register your LLC, you can work with a formation service to handle the filing. 

Last but not least, digitizing your important documents can go a long way to simplifying operations and making it easier to stay organized. You can use this process to simplify contracts, as well. Signing contracts with the help of a PDF filler helps cut down on waste and avoid the hassle of lost paperwork.

Giving back to the community isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing, too. Investing in the people who invest in your business just makes good business sense. From building up sustainable practices to supporting your community, there’s a lot you can do to make a difference.

Note: Don Lewis is the founder of the Idaho-based abilitylabs.com, started following his son Randy’s motorcycle accident that resulted in Randy suffering a severe head trauma. Lewis uses the website to provide a resource for family members of people with disabilities.

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