When I first got in to business, I thought that I would spend a lot of time building my business, and would start networking and "giving back" once I was successful.
This is actually a terrible idea. Not the giving back part, the waiting part.
The worst thing is being a business owner that is isolated and in a bubble. It is hard to make all the important decisions you make as a business owner without the perspective of people who have been there before.
I talked with Anne Kotlarchuk of ALK Event Planning, who is a staple in the North Grenville region for organizing events, charities and non profits. She has a wealth of experience in getting involved in the community. If you are thinking of starting a business or are in the start-up phase, here are a few tips I picked up from Anne on how to make the most out of your networking and "giving back". I hope you enjoy this Pie-Cast as much as I did!
Keep Your Ears Open
If you're hunting for the next big opportunity, it's often beneficial to listen to other business owners. Entrepreneurs are trained to spot opportunities, but there are more opportunities out there then there are business owners to address them. By talking to business owners you might be able to find a niche that hasn't been tapped yet. Maybe the owner doesn't have the resources or skills to go after that niche as they are busy focusing on their own.
The only way that you can make this happen is if you are actually hanging out with other business owners.
SO join a networking group, find events in your community, or join committees and charities where business owners hang out.
You can also just ask. We entrepreneurs love to help those just getting started!
Never Judge A Book By It's Cover
Opportunities can come in all shapes and sizes.
When we think of shopping locally, we often think of small businesses.
But by discounting larger stores or franchises you might miss that there are people who own and run these establishments, that also support your local community. Anne shared the example that a manager of Staples in Kemptville who donates a lot of time and money back into the community.
There are sometimes opportunities for partnerships in the most unexpected places. Don't prejudge what value you can get from a person until you've met them yourself.
Donating Time, Is Just As Valuable As Donating Money
Now to the topic of giving to the community.
People often think that giving to charities means monetary donations. Anne says that in a small community many businesses suffer from sponsorship fatigue. A lot of people don't realize that giving your time as a business owner is just as important!
So, if money is a little tight, especially if you are just starting out, don't worry! You can still get involved and people will value the time you give, probably more than the money anyway.
Not Everything You Do Will Make You Money – But it Could Still Benefit You.
People respect the people who volunteer to benefit the local community.
Giving to the community and not expecting anything in return is what keeps small communities going. It's the engine that drives the service groups and non profits. While this sort of work doesn't make you money, it can give you a lot of personal satisfaction, and build relationships with people who will help you start your business or bolster it later on.