Giving Back as a Small Business Owner
Altruism Brings Small Business Success
One of our four core values at MSK Digital Media is altruism. We feel very grateful to be using our passion for creativity as a platform to give back to others and we encourage other small business owners to do the same, even before you think you can afford to. Bear with me. We made the decision to start giving back in our work with MSK before we could “afford” to (i.e. before we made a dime), mostly because we don’t want to just create websites to pay the bills. And although we selfishly love many things about our work (working for ourselves, the collaboration with our clients and each other, the creativity, creating an online presence for our clients, etc.), it all seems a bit shallow if we aren’t also giving to people who are under-represented and under-served.
I think we have a pretty skewed view of what is “enough” here in America and obviously I’m guilty of it too. Sometimes I catch myself using the word “survive,” as in: “We’re surviving this month . . . ” Really? Clearly, I don’t mean it literally, but even so, the reality is that we’re thriving — and I just want more. I believe my passionate drive and insatiable desire have gotten me to where I am today, but there comes a point (in every day) when I must stop and really look at what “more” I’m wanting. I have everything I need to survive . . . and even more than that, to thrive. That’s a whole lot more than many people in this world and I think it’s become all too easy for us to just worry about and look out for ourselves.
So, how do you give if you have “nothing” to give? As human beings, we all obviously have something to give no matter how small (a few minutes? a smile?), but let’s address the question financially speaking — I’ve read in many books and articles that it takes most small businesses at least a couple years to return a profit, so if you listen to the idea of not giving until you can afford to, you’ll be a few years away from giving back anything. I’m not encouraging you to work for free with no boundaries. I’m saying in addition to taking on paid work, take on a pro-bono project too. If you think you don’t have the time, make the time. When Matt came to me saying he found a non-profit he wanted to help, we were already working on three other projects at the time (not to mention trying to simply get our business off the ground). He wanted to know what I thought (though I think he knew) about taking on another project, pro-bono nonetheless. All aboard! 🙂 Busy people find time. And the projects we’ve done pro-bono, for some reason, are the most fulfilling. I think it’s time we start giving back when it’s not easy. Find the time. Find the resources. And an added bonus: you’ll be surprised by the blessings that come raining down.
There’s a website called Sparked where global non-profits post their needs to hopefully be met by those who are willing to give. That’s where Matt found Ndungo Samuel and Luhwahwa Youth Development Foundation (LUYODEFO), a non-profit, non-governmental organization that provides support to marginalized communities in Uganda. We just launched their site this week and it’s pretty dang awesome. You know what else is awesome? Being able to work from our little apartment in Los Angeles with an amazing man in Uganda who is saving lives! Take a moment to check out how LUYODEFO is empowering the Ugandan people to change lives, specifically those of orphans and terminally ill women.
I think all of us have a calling and desire inside, directing us towards helping someone, or a community, or a cause that needs us, and sometimes, I think that little voice gets ignored. What whisper did you hear while reading this post? Follow it. Trust me, you can’t afford not to.
Pay it forward,