Can you see it? Right now, big things are changing in the landscape of the business world. Both large businesses and small businesses are changing their entire business structure and marketing efforts around one simple idea:
They're becoming nonprofits.
Instead of seeking to maximize profits for the owners, these new kinds of businesses are seeking to maximize profits for charitable causes or minimize cost for their customers.
Take Panera Bread, which has franchised a not-for-profit restaurant in Clayton, MO, and is opening more in the near future. Or the wonderful Bordertown Coffee, situated on the campus of the University of Minnesota, which sells a wide variety of caffeinated beverages.
So why am I mentioning this to you, the small businessperson who is interested in earning good money for your work?
To put it simply, these organizations have some significant advantages that your small business currently doesn't have that you may be able to incorporate into your own business.
First, by working for community needs, such businesses easily have a positive reputation in the community. I mentioned Bordertown Coffee above because I know of the positive reputation that it is building in the University of Minnesota community.
Second, such a model becomes a calling card for a business executing it. Again, with Bordertown Coffee, their business model is part of their calling card. They're not seeking to make a profit -- they're seeking to make great coffee and build a community. That plays directly into their hands.
These two elements do one thing: they increase the value of your business. Because you have this automatic calling card for marketing and a positive reputation for your good deeds, you're able to easily attract customers that may have gone to other businesses. That's an increase in both revenue and in business value.
How can you make that happen for your business? One easy way to do this is to make a clear pledge of giving some percentage of your profits to a given charity. For example, let's say you wanted to help the local Habitat for Humanity. Simply pledge to donate 20 percent of your business profits to Habitat for Humanity this quarter. Put that pledge up in your business. Come through with it as soon as your cash flow allows you to. What will happen is that the Habitat volunteers will know of your donations (which helps the charity to move forward) and will be more inclined to support your business -- and more inclined to tell others about it as well.
You can keep carrying that idea forward, of course. Let's say, hypothetically, you designated all of your business profits to a certain charity that you care deeply for and simply made yourself a direct employee of the business, taking a salary that meets your personal needs.
It would be a new kind of business for a new kind of world, wouldn't it?
The real value of this, of course, isn't in how it changes your business. The real value is in how it changes you. Your well-run small business gives you the opportunity to improve your community and positively affect the world. Tying your business to things that you truly care about gives your business a level of personal meaning that it may have never had before.
Image credit: net_efekt