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10.24.2014 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

Is Giving Back Part of Your Business Culture?

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, chances are, you work a lot of hours. Being in business for yourself is never easy. It’s even more difficult to take time out of your busy schedule to give back.

What I’ve learned over the years, however, is that the most successful business owners make it a point to give back. They contribute their time and money for the benefit of others. Giving back is not just something they do to gain more customers. Generosity is part of their business culture; it’s who they are.

I was reminded of the importance of giving back last Monday when 94 business leaders showed up bright and early to participate in the 7th Annual Michael Spano Memorial Golf Tournament.

Over the past seven years, my husband and his friend Steve have co-chaired this tournament to raise funds for persons with disabilities. This year was particularly meaningful because the money raised will now be redirected to The Michael Spano Foundation. All of this in memory of our son Michael who passed away in September of 2008. The mission of the foundation is to help people with disabilities realize options for independence, choice, and a meaningful life in the community.

I woke this morning reflecting on the importance of the event from a different perspective. Yes, the purpose is to support a worthy cause. Yet, I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot more going on here besides fundraising and a day of golf.

In giving to a worthy cause, these business owners are also reaping benefits for themselves, their businesses, and the overall community.

Let’s take a look at a few of these benefits:

1. Stronger Relationships

Business is about building relationships. My husband has always said that he does more business on the golf course than almost anywhere else. Until the onset of these tournaments, I’m not sure I was entirely convinced.

When business owners come together for a worthy purpose and fun and fellowship are in the mix, something magical happens. As I’ve watched these men interact with one another over scores and best shots of the day, I’ve watched the relationships develop and grow into something bigger than a game of golf.

I think it boils down to one simple factor: Support the community, and the community will support you. More importantly, when you give back from a true spirit of generosity, you not only grow your business relationships, you grow as a human being.

2. Meaningful Work

Being in business for yourself is not for the faint of heart. This is particularly true if you’re in a business that is labor intensive or more technical in nature. The shortest road to burnout is to chase that bottom-line.

We all know that the bottom-line takes care of itself when we love our work. In order to love it, however, it has to have purpose. When you earn for something bigger than yourself, your work takes on an entirely new meaning.

We are, by our very nature, designed to give back. It may not always be about money. Sometimes it’s about being fully present with a customer in a way that makes a difference.

In real estate, for example, I like to remind our agents that selling or buying a home is one of the biggest monetary decisions that most people make. As agents, they’re not just in business to close a deal. They’re in business to serve and advise people on this most important decision.

When you think of ways that you can give back, your work becomes more meaningful and your life more fulfilling.

3. Stronger Communities

The very nature of an entrepreneur is to make things happen. Even so, most small business owners have so much on their plate, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You wind up doing nothing because you just don’t know where to begin.

As business owners, we want our community to be safe and economically sound. All you have to do is look to cities like Detroit to know how easy it is for businesses to crumble and fall. As business leaders, we have a responsibility to take care of our own.

The good news is that when we come together and give back, we affect change. We don’t have to go it alone. We can do our little part, and in doing so, literally build stronger communities.

I challenge you to think of one or two select areas of interest in your own community. You don’t have to support everything. Pick something that resonates with your business, your life, your heart, and focus your efforts there.

All this being said, I love the fact that our little tournament is not only impacting the lives of people with disabilities. It’s also building stronger relationships and helping our local business leaders change the face of our community.

Who would imagine that the memory of one young man named Michael could do all that!

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. October 24, 2014