Giving back to my community is something I was taught from a very early age. My grandmother was always (and still is) involved in the church’s activities and served on the usher board for many years. Her actions provided an example of giving without giving it all way, so to speak. I was member of the LaVarnway Boys and Girls Club for most of my young life. During my teenage years, I became President of the Youth Action Council of Social Development Commission in Milwaukee, WI. These organizations provide services and support to the community with moral strength. I was able to learn the value of my own presence and the impact it has on everything around me. How can I apply this key lesson I learned to my new business pursuits? Simple: give back in like kind or in time.
Being that I am a solo-preneur, I have very little funds to give to my favorite non-profits and charitable causes. It also means I have to spend my funds wisely within the small business community. However, I whole-heartedly believe in "giving back, to get ahead". Below are some ways I give back without breaking the bank.
Speak Easy. I say it all the time, and probably won’t stop saying it ever: Word of mouth is the best advertising. It only works when you are doing what you saying you are capable of doing. Being that I have benefited greatly from word-of-mouth advertising, I make sure I do the same for any entrepreneur, small business, or organization that has helped me past or present. When I needed a logo for my website and business cards, I turned to Goldie’s Graffix, a fellow solo-preneur who I was referred to by one of his clients. I wanted a professional/upscale headshot for my website and LinkedIn profile, I connected with Melissa Impellitteri, who works with me by day, and moonlights as a photographer at night. Like my webpage says, “There is strength in numbers!” I am constantly on the prowl to meet small business owners and self-employed people who has goods and services I can utilize so I can make a connection and spread the word.
Do the Right Thing. When I was writing business plans for previous business ventures that went south, I would have the plan critiqued by a member of SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives). I have always kept this organization in my arsenal of resources. After I incorporated my business in August 2011, I joined SCORE in November 2011 as a volunteer for the Southeast Wisconsin Chapter and became a Certified Mentor. The reason I joined SCORE was to give the best resources I have: knowledge and support. It also establishes my credibility as an expert, which is a win-win situation. By providing free knowledge and support to aspiring and established entrepreneurs, I thicken my roots in my community, and I gain a feeling that money cannot buy. The best part of being a part of SCORE is meeting other people who have the same passion for the business, or idea, as I do!
Teach What I Know. I also created the first installment of a financial literacy course for Opportunities PA, a non-profit that helps homeless youth transition from adolescence to adulthood in Philadelphia, PA. The purpose of the course is to give the participants a better understanding of how the bank, credit, and tax systems affect them directly. I incorporate my prior experiences as a teller at a credit union, independent tax preparer, and a consumer to inform others of the realities of money and how it works. I am doing this as a favor to fellow woman entrepreneur/friend and as a personal goal of mine. I honestly believe that the younger generations need to understand the real value of money and how to an effective consumer in the marketplace.
So far, I believe my efforts are appreciated and creating intangible value for the businesses and organizations I have helped. I am sure there is more I could do. But business calls!
What are some ways you give back when you don’t have money to spare?
"Putting My Money Where My Mouth Is" is a journal about real life experiences and concerns of Jéneen R. Perkins. The purpose of the blog is to exhibit the real life challenges and answer the tough questions posed by the concepts of business, entrepreneurship and money.