As many of you know, Hurricane and Tropical Storm Florence effected many lives and businesses all across North and South Carolina. The damaged caused by wind, rain and flooding has been heart breaking and devastating. Living in Charlotte, NC, I was very fortunate and speared the horrific scenes that occurred in others areas around in the eastern part of the state.

I have been reading how many large companies and organizations have been reaching out to provide financial aid and support for the victims of the storm. It is very heart felt to see these companies and their employees step up in time of need.  Although many Small Businesses may not have deep big pockets to contribute, paying it forward and doing what you can to help is certainly appreciated. It’s not just large companies who have a lot to gain (and give) by paying it forward. The principle works just as well for small businesses.

In running a small business, it’s the things you do and not the things you say that make the biggest impact on your business. So, when you’ve obtained some amount of success with your business, it is important to pay it forward to the clients, customers, and community that have supported you. Particularly in time of need. No act is too small and the kindness and generosity you bestow on others make a big statement about you and your commitment to the people you serve.

Here are five reasons why you should consider becoming a kinder small business:

  1. It’s been shown to boost staff morale, teamwork, communication and loyalty particularly with your Millennial staff who work for you.
  2. You’ll get great positive publicity for your business – and boost your reputation.
  3. You could attract more customers (who prefer to patronize an ethical business).
  4. It can help you spot and nurture otherwise hidden talents in your team.
  5. You and your employees will benefit from the physical and mental health benefits listed above.

I always recommend this “Paying it Forward” strategy to my coaching clients and audiences while speaking to help them create customer loyalty for life with their customers and clients. It creates an emotional connection with people. It is a feel good story and everyone likes to support those who do it. Not just during time of need but do it as part of your overall business strategy.

If you’re stuck for ideas of ways you can pay it forward as a small business, here are some popular ones to get you started:

  • Choose a company charity and encourage your employees to help you fund raise for it, for example by doing a sponsored walk, 5K or distance run together.
  • Have an annual pay it forward day when you and your employees help out the local community. Ideas can include collecting needed food and supplies, or help with picking up trash and rubbish in areas that were effected by the storm.
  • Offer skillful help from employees, family members and friends that can help with rebuilding of homes of the poor or elderly and other businesses in the effected communities.
  • Challenge employees or departments to see who can raise the most money for charity or make the biggest positive impact locally in a set period of time.
  • Incentives or fund local pay it forward initiatives led by your employees.
  • Donate a percentage of your profits to a charity. Create a special event.
  • Get your team involved in brainstorming in a Pay It Forward Day. They might have friends and relatives who were effected by the storm, with real life stories, that will trigger opportunities to help.

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Expressing gratitude doesn’t have to be a financial burden or a major time commitment. I encourage you and your team to take time to pay it forward, give thanks to the people that support you, and make an impact on someone else’s life. It could be a game changer in your business but mostly a life changer for others as well. Now that would be Magical!