If the strategic plan for growing your family business does not include community development, then it's mediocre at best. At your finger tips lies the power to create better communities. It's the gift inherent in building any solid family business. You have to decide what it is you want. What changes do you want to see? Can you visualize what a great community would like, and the priorities that your family needs to set to get there? When you operate your family business with the goal of using a portion of your profits to love others, meet needs and alleviate suffering, you open yourself up to be more creative, energetic, and successful.
How Do You Choose Priorities?
The longer you remain in family business, the more you'll be approached by individuals and groups for money or to help solve problems. It's the reason why some entrepreneurs enter the political arena. They believe that they can help in a greater way by getting elected. One strategy is to help whomever asks. The risk is that you may not make a sizable impact in the community. Another strategy is to pour your time, energy and earnings into one or a few priorities to impact more lives. The risk is that you may not see immediate results, and you're sure to encounter more obstacles in the process. How do you decide on your priorities? Look at your family. Who are you? What's your story? Hidden in your family identity are clues to the problems you were created to solve for others. For example, my community development priorities have a central theme of eradicating poverty. Overcoming poverty and its effects is deeply woven into my family story. It's natural for me to become energized and enthusiastic about causes to stomp it out of my community.
What Are Some Examples?
It's important to start with the right mindset so that you don't miss opportunities to serve. Don't try to adjust your priorities to the size of your family business. Whether you're a billion dollar family business running one of the largest private foundations in the world, or a start-up with $50 per month to give, you can contribute to solving just about any problem. Fewer resources is just a way to challenge your creativity. The love you have for the people you want to help will fuel your efforts to collaborate, raise awareness and more money. Some real examples of priorities and programs that family business owners take on include: affordable housing, meal delivery to senior adults or patients with a life threatening illness, clean water, neighborhood crime watch, Sex trafficking, education for girls, college scholarships for low income students, and maternity homes. The sky is the limit in terms of where a family business can jump in. That's the problem. You are not called to be the savior to the world. You should still give as you're moved, and not turn someone away simply because they don't fit your written priorities. However, it's wise to be strategic and give your resources to work being done around your priorities.
What About Collaboration?
You shouldn't become a lone ranger when it comes to community development. At first, you may be discouraged that those around you think and see things differently. That's probably the reason why you started a family business there in the first place. You saw opportunities where others couldn't. Carry that same thinking into your work in the community. Those same people just don't see the opportunities to love and serve to the way that you do. Model it. Be consistent. Soon enough, extended family, friends, government officials, executive directors, board members and those you help will want to learn more. As they see your results, they'll become believers.Some may be ready to collaborate from the very beginning. Find those people with your passion and priorities, and look for opportunities to join forces. Don't just give money away, but collaborate through sharing ideas and other resources. Your entrepreneurial thinking is a great asset to non-profit and government organizations. Consider starting a family foundation, and collaborate with the groups you fund.
What the world needs now is family business. There's strength in numbers and when done right, your family and business activities can position you to do great things to improve the lives of others. You will reap the spiritual and material rewards of building better communities if you make it a priority.