When I started my small business the first thing I did was join the local chamber. It was a great way for me to meet other business owners, learn about the city, connect to residents, and create a relationship with the city government. Being part of the chamber not only helped launch my business, but more importantly it made me part of the local community.
There are many different aspects of a good community. There are the local residents who by living there benefit from public services and that unique culture. There are businesses which provide goods, services, and employment. There are government agencies who manage the safety and security of the community. And there are local non-profit agencies providing valuable services for those who would not be able to receive them otherwise. There is a very important symbiotic relationship between small businesses and the residents of that city.
My local community of Arlington Heights Illinois is very important to me as I both live and work here. It is interesting to be not only invested in the local schools, park districts, and streets of the Village as a resident, but also to be active in the issues and policies affecting local businesses. A thriving business community supports the local residents, and a healthy population is important to the economic viability of every small business.
As a resident of the Village of Arlington Heights, I was excited to have our Village President as a guest on The Empowerment show. Tom Hayes was recently elected Village President after outgoing President Arlene Mulder held that post for 20 years. Tom talked about his belief in leadership by example. Tom believes that “building consensus and encouraging involvement of Board members, residents and business owners throughout our community is the best way to advance the quality of life in Arlington Heights.” Whether you are a resident of Arlington Heights or not, listen below for a lively discussion about building communities, supporting small businesses, and providing positive quality of life for residents of a small town. Learn how your actions as a business or resident can affect your local quality of life.
Social Enterprise has much been on my mind lately. The concept is so foreign to the Wall Street “Greed is Good” I grew up with in the 1980’s. Social Enterprise is where for-profit business is blended with a non-profit giving back element. Sometimes it takes the form of a non-profit which creates a for-profit arm to self-sustain its mission. Sometimes it is a for-profit business that adds in a generous focus on heart and humanity.
Some Social Enterprises are like Tropical Smoothie Café which for the past seven years has hosted National Flip Flop Day to benefit Camp Sunshine. Camp Sunshine is the only retreat in the nation whose mission is dedicated to impacting children with life-threatening illnesses, and the families and siblings who help them through it. In 2013, the Camp will serve as many as 800 children with life-threatening illnesses and their families from around the country, free of charge. Camp Sunshine is able to help so many in part due to Tropical Smoothie Café’s fundraising efforts. To date, Tropical Smoothie Café has donated $1.5 million to Camp Sunshine, sending 750 children and their families to experience the camp. Last year, Tropical Smoothie Café raised $400,000 for Camp Sunshine and the company plans to exceed that number in 2013 by raising $500,000. Plus Tropical Smoothie Café locations nationwide collectively gave away close to 200,000 smoothies for the cause, which equated to approximately $1 million in free smoothies.
The old business model used to be either / or. Either a corporation is for profit or it is not for profit. Today many businesses are both / and. They are both for-profit and have a giving back element. These new businesses aim to be profitable and to benefit the larger community. Take a look at the businesses around you and notice how many are more than just money-making enterprises. Take a look at your own business. What are ways you can or are giving back to your community? What are ways you can support those where you live or support the causes you believe in? Share with us your thoughts on Social Enterprise and how you see this new role of business.