I'm the editor of entrepreneur-ette magazine... and founder of the entrepreneur-ette community. Like lots of other women in business, I started my business with a dream (mine was to start a magazine for women in business) and along the way I've met lots of inspirational women and learnt lots too... I'm looking forward to sharing my knowledge and stories from other women in business here.View all articles by Fiona Powell
We all want to make our impact on the world but how can we do it?
There are numerous ways that your business can make a difference. Here's a list to start you thinking. Obviously not all these ideas will be suitable - some will be unrealistic due to financial restrictions or time restraints, others simply not possible. However, hopefully you will find one or two ideas that appeal, and by putting those ideas into place you'll be able to make your own special impact on the world.
Ways to make a difference to your community:
1. Mentor someone - there are lots of people out there who would appreciate your business advice. For further information on becoming involved in a local mentor scheme contact your local Chamber of Commerce.
2. Let people use your outdoor space for a BBQ - The Warehouse regularly lets community groups raise money by having barbecues outside the store. Do you have a suitable space you could let groups use?
3. Work together with your staff on a community project - whether it's painting the local bus shelters or helping out at a community fundraiser, get together with your staff one Saturday afternoon and help make a difference in your community.
4. Give staff members an hour off each week to do some form of volunteer work.
5. Ask employees to bring in old clothes for good causes - maybe as added encouragement you could give them ten minutes off per item they bring.
6. Join a community clean up day - encourage everyone at work to grab a rubbish bag and gloves and clear the area of unsightly rubbish.
7. If you haven't the time for a whole day, take half an hour off to clean up a stretch of beach, bush or road.
8. Take on high school students for work experience - it's good for them and you may just discover your next enthusiastic staff member.
9. Put a container on the counter or at the front door for spare change - when it's full pick a cause and donate the proceeds.
10. Encourage staff members to bring in a toy each for needy children at Christmas.
11. Have 'tin' days - designate a day a month and encourage staff to bring in a tin of food to be donated to food banks or the SPCA or RSPCA.
12. Have a customer or employee of the month award, to be given to the person who shows the most community spirit - make certificates or give them a little gift to let them know you recognise their contribution.
13. Hire an unemployed person, a disabled person or someone with a prison record - if you give people a chance you may just be surprised at the result! For more information contact Work and Income New Zealand on 0800 559 009 or Job Network Australia 1800 805 260.
14. Impose a small fine on employees for swearing, personal phone calls or any behaviour you don't condone - give the money to a charity.
15. Sponsor a local sports team.
16. Encourage employees to take part in fun runs/walks that are raising money for charity.
17. Organise a fun run/walk for charity.
18. Ring local charities and see what ways your business can help them - they may be able to use your facilities or be thrilled with some of your unused office gear.
19. Give employees an hour off to be street collectors for local charities.
20. Donate your product to school raffles - if you don't have a suitable product or service, maybe you could help the school by selling raffle tickets for them.
21. Get involved in local issues - take an interest in your local community. Is there anything you feel strongly about? Join action groups or start up one of your own.
22. Volunteer to talk about your business at a local school - inspire the students by sharing your stories of success.
Ways to make a difference to the world:
23. Sponsor a child - contact Christian Children's Fund (0800 808 822 New Zealand or 1800 023 600 Australia) or World Vision (0800 800 776 New Zealand or 133240 Australia).
24. Ask employees and customers for their suggestions on things to do to make the world a better place.
25. Donate a percentage of a certain day's profits to a cause that your employees or clients choose.
26. Join organisations that support causes you believe in - each organisation has different means of fundraising or campaigning. For instance, if you join Amnesty International you can make a big difference writing a letter a month to leaders of countries holding political prisoners or committing brutalities. Contact Amnesty International on 0800 266 378 New Zealand or 1300 300 920 Australia.
Ways to make a difference to the environment:
27. Print your business cards and newsletters on recycled paper - let your clients know by printing '100 percent recycled' at the base of the item. It may encourage them to do the same.
28. Use eco-friendly products - contact your local environment centre to find out products that are friendly to the environment.
29. Recycle everything - contact your local council for details of local recycling schemes.
30. Have a 'plant a tree' day - buy some seedlings, phone the local council to see which areas could use more trees and take your staff out for a tree planting occasion.
31. Donate spare paper to local kindergartens.
32. Don't print out emails.
33. Don't use disposable cups - how about buying each employee a new mug when they start?
34. Use recyclable packaging on your products (or ask yourself if you need to use packaging at all).
35. Encourage staff to take food scraps home for compost (or take them home yourself).
36. Have a 'no waste' day and see if you can make it through the day without throwing anything out.
37. Prepare a booklet on recycling for your employees and/or clients.
38. When decorating your office use bio-paints - they're chemical free and reduce humidity.
39. Use locally made resources - it's a great way of supporting your local community and also developing support for your own company.
40. Contact your local power company for information on energy efficiency.
41. Buy water-based, solvent-free paints, stains and glues.
42. If your products are eco-friendly let your clients know - maybe they'll consider doing the same!
43. Reward staff for recycling.
Ways to make a difference to your employees:
44. Sponsor an employee on an Outward Bound course - for further information contact The Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand on 0800 65 44 22 or 1800 267 999 Australia.
45. Have a family day at work - organise a tour of the facilities for employees' families and hold a special family lunch.
46. Don't be so rigid about titles - give your employees fun titles rather than the traditional ones. How about 'Receptionist Extraordinaire' or 'Customer Sales Whiz'? Recognition is an important part of showing your employees you appreciate the job they do (and it'll show your clients you have a sense of humour).
47. On a hot day bring ice creams back from lunch for all your employees.
48. Let each of your employees use your car park once a month.
49. Establish a small library in your workplace - include training books, self-improvement books, joke books or anything you think will contribute to your employees' personal and professional growth.
50. Write notes of encouragement to your employees.
51. Give employees the day off with full pay on their birthday - if this isn't financially possible, bake them a cake or let them take an extra hour for lunch.
52. If something special is happening, such as the America's Cup, let your employees watch it on television.
53. Set up a television and video in the staff room for lunch breaks.
54. Allow employees to 'donate' annual leave/sick leave to other employees.
55. Be aware of different cultures in the workplace - ask employees to share their culture with others.
56. If your employees have a uniform, provide an iron.
57. Make lunch for your employees/clients - how hard is it to make an extra sandwich every so often?
58. Pay for employee training - not just professional growth, but personal growth as well.
59. Make employees' families part of the team - don't treat them like strangers when they visit the workplace.
60. If some of your employees have business cards and others don't, give all of them business cards (even if some only get a couple that you've made yourself on the computer).
61. Take photos of employees/clients and their families and put them on the walls.
62. Ring up a good employee one evening and say 'you're doing a great job, have tomorrow off'.
63. Ask your employees to write down their top ten goals and see what you can do to encourage them (ie if they want to learn to drive, can you subsidise the lessons, give them time off for lessons or teach them yourself?).
64. Plant a small garden at your workplace.
65. Introduce a workplace pet (check that no one is allergic).
66. Encourage parents to take an hour off to go to special family events.
67. Give employees the opportunity to have a say in the running of the business.
68. Allow employees a little time off when something big is happening in their life (ie buying a house or arranging a wedding).
69. Encourage staff to save for the future - bring in a financial advisor to advise them on how to achieve their financial goals.
70. Introduce spontaneous surprises to thank your employees for all their hard work - how about a trip to the movies or a bunch of flowers?
71. Send congratulations cards to employees' family members who have had exams or achieved something big.
72. Send cards to your employees' families on birthdays.
73. Play music in the workplace - if it's not appropriate, how about short music breaks during the day?
74. Appreciate your employees' beliefs and customs - learning about them may help you fully understand why they work the way they do.
75. Have an outside day - see if you can arrange for everyone to do their work outside for a day.
76. Let your employees decorate their own workspace.
77. Provide cold drinks for staff - don't just cater for tea and coffee drinkers.
78. Trust your employees - don't be afraid to give them extra responsibilities.
79. Value your employees - they are assets, not liabilities.
80. Get to know your employees' career goals - ask them what they would like to be achieving in their job, ask if they would like more challenges or whether they feel they are coping with their workload.
Ways to make the world a more cheerful place:
81. Have a lollipop day - give anyone who comes into your workplace a lollipop.
82. Send your clients and employees birthday and Christmas cards.
83. Don't put a ban on funny emails.
84. Acknowledge all holidays, not just the ones you celebrate.
85. Put smiley face stickers on your products and/or employee memos.
86. Use cheerful colours in your décor.
87. Have an office picnic - make some sandwiches, throw down a rug and have a picnic lunch right in the middle of the office.
Ways to make a difference to your employee's health:
88. Encourage your staff to take OOS prevention aerobics breaks - once an hour get your employees to jump up and wave their arms around like lunatics.
89. Subsidise employees' gym fees - active and healthy employees take less sick leave and have more motivation.
90. Have random 'fit' days - give your employees two hours off to go to a gym, pool or just for a walk.
91. Have computer-free days - there are sure to be a number of tasks your employees could be doing without using a computer.
92. Pay for employees to go through stop smoking courses - contact the Quit programme on 0800 778 778 New Zealand or 13 1848 Australia for more information.
93. Give your employees unlimited sick leave.
94. Make sure your employees' workspaces are ergonomically correct.
95. Provide free flu injections for employees each winter.
Ways to make an ethical difference:
96. How ethical is your business? Look at all aspects of your business and put an ethics policy into place.
97. How ethical are your suppliers? Don't be afraid to ask them about their policies.
98. Develop a relationship with your neighbours - let them know what your business is doing and make sure the noise/light isn't bothering them.
99. Don't support stereotypes - waif thin supermodels are out, instead use people with unusual characteristics in your advertising campaigns (they're more likely to be remembered).
100. Make sure your advertising is not misleading in any way.
101. Are your employees' contracts fair? Ring the Employment Relations Infoline on 0800 800 863 New Zealand or Employment Legal Advice 13 1384 Australia to find out.
Originally published in Her Business magazine. by Amber Smith