Community is absolutely key to the business owner. Recent events have called on us over and over to think about how we’re all connected. The COVID-19 pandemic made it more obvious than ever how we all depend on each other, while the protests happening around the country call on each of us to reflect how we interact with each other and the ways we enable racist policing to continue. Throughout all of this, one of my main pieces of advice has been to stay checked in with other business owners, clients, and other community members. From staying in touch with your audience via social media like Bri Crabtree, to leaning on your money team to make financial decisions, community is very important to a business. No solopreneur exists in a vacuum. So, during this time of unrest and reckoning with our racist past and present, it’s important that we each recognize our responsibilities as community players.
In this post, I’ll talk about the importance of taking time to reflect on your role in your community, and what you can do now to support Black lives. Whether its fellow business owners, youth in your community, or medics and community workers, many people are in need of support and resources. This is our opportunity to step up as business owners. Let’s dive in:
Take time to consider how you’ve shown up in your community prior. Whether it was donating your goods or services to a local fundraiser, or starting a project that raised money for a specific cause, consider your past efforts. If you’ve never embarked on a project like this, have you had any ideas about it in the past? Reflect on your values and your personal desires to get involved and be supportive to others. What motivates you? It is to your great benefit to build a network in your community of people and causes you support, and who support you in turn.
Reach Out for Feedback
Ask friends who are involved how your business could support community efforts. If you have friends who are currently involved in anti-racism work, ask them how you could support them or amplify their message. You’ll likely receive some fresh suggestions.
Take Cues From Other Businesses
In my newsletter this month, I highlighted Ben & Jerry’s statement on recent events, “Silence is Not an Option.” Along with this statement, they have also released a new flavor that benefits four different organizations “working on the front lines of the peaceful resistance, building a world that supports their values.” While Ben & Jerry’s is a fairly large corporation, their example is inspiring for businesses of all sizes.
Here’s an idea more to scale for many of us. Many solopreneurs on Instagram are participating in the #amplifymelanatedvoices challenge, to uplift Black and Brown solopreneurs. Quieting their own social media presences and spotlighting these creators helps them materially, but also creates stronger networks of community among these solopreneurs. Some business owners have also been donating free services or products to Black people and organizations. For example, I’ve seen several herbal apothecaries that are offering free herbal products and consultations for Black people and organizers.
Do some research and find out what others in your industry are doing, and how businesses in your area are responding to the moment. Then think about what you can do for your community that is authentic, helpful, and realistic given your resources. To ensure your actions are concretely helpful to the Black community, check out this read on do’s and don’ts of allyship.
Consider Your Resources
All businesses are not alike, and while you may not have the resources to release a new ice cream flavor, perhaps you can use your platform to speak out. Simply adding your voice as a business owner to the current discussion around the importance of Black lives and the horrors of police misconduct can be helpful. The same goes at another time for another issue.
Perhaps you can donate your time or services to a cause, or offer them for free for Black or low-income people in your area. You might create a fundraising offering, where a certain percentage of proceeds goes to fund an organization in your community. If you get creative, there are many ways to chip in and stay in your business’s budget. Next week, I’ll be talking about how to use money mapping to figure out how much you can give to causes. Stay tuned for that.
Above all, remember that whatever effort you make to contribute to your community, if you make it with good intentions, know that it will be appreciated, and likely returned to you down the road. The more we create good networks that are based truly on helping each other, the more we can each succeed in our endeavors. If you’d like another reflection-based exercise to go along with all this, check out my posts on how to do a mid-year review.
Image by Joan Villalon