How to build a strong community to support your business
In modern societies, gaining community support is crucial in building both initial awareness as well as ongoing support for any type of project. Academic institutes benefit from open communication between students and educators. Political strategies need the support of local government and voters.
The same is true for businesses, which are effectively the bread and butter for local economies and culture. Businesses, especially those bringing about a significant change or new idea, deeply require the support of local people. So how does this get accomplished?
At Your Coffee Break, we’ve devised six ways to help you build a strong community to support your business. Through preparation, collaboration and fostering community culture, you can strengthen support from a multi-faceted approach within your area.
1. Prepare any questions or concerns in advance. Getting “boxed-in” on your business and its products or services can be debilitating. How does the community see your business’ ingenuity, if at all? Start by making an internal cheat-sheet about your business, like an elevator speech. You’ll be able to explain things with ease and a lot faster, helpful for those short encounters you have with those around you.
2. Understand leaders and influencers that relate to your business. Though it is time consuming at first, finding local influencers and thought leaders will be worth it in the end. The reason being? These are people you can depend upon for knowing what’ what within your trade. One example of this is to start by researching who is covering your industry within local media. This will allow you to stay in tune to what’s trending and what or whom has the potential to affect your business.
3. Be open to those with prior experience. It’s easy to want to be the expert at what you’re doing and ignore what others have to say. But it’s a humbling experience to ask a veteran in your field for help. Many passionate people are willing, even flattered, to share their knowledge and expertise with someone who’s wanting to learn from them.
4. Get to know local politicians and relevant agencies. Every community has top leaders and policies to be examined. Start from the outsides of agencies and government groups, then work your way in to find a more specific contact. If you get stuck, ask, “Who else would be helpful regarding this?” Additionally, you may be surprised how helpful local governments can be for business owners and entrepreneurs. There are many resources available.
5. Continue to communicate within local groups. Get involved with a group of business leaders or community of experts in your specific field. It’s common for most cities to have a local young professionals group, groups that support women in business, ethnic groups that participate in specific trades, and the like. However, this type of involvement doesn’t have to be limited solely to fellow business owners and entrepreneurs. Good examples of local collaborations can be seen through art shows, food and wine festivals, and events where multiple artists and creators come together.
6. Find a way to give back to those within your community. Whether it’s a charitable donation or volunteer opportunity, giving back to your community through your business can reach for miles. Own a catering company or restaurant? Consider providing food for a local non-profit event or fundraiser. Or even host a cooking workshop at a local school to help kids learn how to prepare meals. Another option is to provide customers with a loyalty card. This will not only keep them coming back, but show that you care about the community. Small give-backs such as these can do immediate good in your local community.
Maintaining a business certainly isn’t easy. If it were, everyone would do it. Gaining community support will open you and your business to a lot more influential people, ideas and ultimately, those interested in doing ongoing business with you.