Don’t Ignore the Call
By: Susan VanEpps, Loudoun Virginia Economic Development
Call it social entrepreneurship, civic engagement, or just plain volunteering – they’re all variations on the model of community service. For the entrepreneur working night and day to advance a business, the concept of sacrificing time to participate with local charitable and civic organizations might seem counterintuitive. The benefits, however, should not be overlooked.
For a city or county, the participation of its local entrepreneurs can result in the advancement of social and political issues, the betterment of schools or community causes, and an increased sense of community cohesion. Regardless of whether the activities are focused on public policy or community service, two studies from the National Conference on Citizenship also found that high rates of participation enhance trust among community members, and even increased a locality’s ability to withstand and recover from economic recession.
For the individual entrepreneur, the benefits are even more direct. For you and your business, studies show community engagement can provide:
· Improved morale among your employees;
· If desired, a chance to put your business in the spotlight. You might have a tiny company, but community involvement can put your company on center stage;
· Opportunities to enhance and develop business-related skills and confidence;
· Access to networks for all of the benefits they provide – exposure to area leaders and potential customers, and introductions to people you might otherwise never meet;
· The rewards of knowing you have made a difference among the people and in the issues that matter to you and your community.
In Loudoun, opportunities for businesses to get involved are widespread. Each year Volunteer Loudoun manages individual volunteer opportunities, large community events like Make a Difference Day as well as over 100 corporate projects using employee volunteers. Volunteer Loudoun President Carol Barbe states that “Giving back to our community is a win-win for everyone. As a small business owner myself, I can truly attest to the benefits. I've personally been volunteering in the Loudoun community for over 23 years, and our business Backflow Technology has been involved since it was founded over 15 years ago. We are a small business and strongly encourage our employees to [participate]. They are always willing to volunteer, and we support them in doing so. It truly helps improve morale, helps our business visibility and more importantly makes a difference in our community.”
Business-focused service groups to consider include local chambers of commerce, economic development commissions, technology councils, and others listed in your local SourceLink directory.
Content contributed by Susan VanEpps, Loudoun SourceLink. Loudoun SourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs.