The most stressful thing about owning and managing your business is — well owning and managing your business of course!
But there is gratification that comes with being ‘the boss’ and moreover, an opportunity to use your freedom to give back, in little ways, to those around you.
Out in Papua New Guinea, where so many — especially in urban areas — were growing up without education, clean water, regular food on the table or a stable roof over their heads, businesses and business people embraced their corporate social responsibilities in many ways.
In the spirit of the Festive Season, here are a few of the sort of things that I and others I knew would get involved in.
The essence of Rotary is written into its most enduring motto, Service above self. Made up of a variety of professionals, Rotary aims to target specific projects that assist the communities they live in. In Papua New Guinea, one of the most successful programs was ‘Adopt a Village’ which encouraged Rotary Clubs in Australia (and beyond) to fund treated mosquito nets on a village by village basis. This program, part of Rotarians against Malaria (RAM), was spearheaded by a stalwart of the business and local community as well as all round good bloke, Ron Seddon. You can find out more about RAM here and Rotary here.
Councils and Peak Bodies
I was fortunate to have been elected Chairman of the Manufacturers’ Council of PNG where I was able to have direct dialogue with the government of the day and others on behalf of my constituents on key issues such as employment, minimum wage, impediments to business, vocational training and much more. We worked hand in hand with other bodies such as the Business Council and Chambers of Commerce to promote employment and economic growth for the benefit of the communities we worked in and the country as a whole. These were national bodies, but there are plenty of local organisations that you can get involved in wherever you are. Find one that you think suits your talents and see if you can make a difference.
Mentoring and Coaching
Someone recently explained the difference to me — a mentor is someone who gives you the benefit of their experience, a coach is someone who helps you access the benefit of your own. Either way being a mentor or a coach is a great way to help others and no doubt help yourself too. One of my colleagues mentors on a regular basis and I get the impression that its one of the things that gives him a great deal of fulfilment. I have been lucky enough to have benefited throughout my life from informal mentoring so it doesn’t have to be a rigid relationship. If you think you have something to give, this may be a great way of starting.
A non-executive is a Director who acts in an advisory capacity. If you are going to get into a non-executive role on a formal Board of Directors, you will have the same obligations and duties of care as any other director. As a non-exec your main role is to provide dispassionate and unbiased advice to the Board. Having been a non-exec and having worked with several, this sort of a role can be both challenging (especially if working with in an organisation that suffers from political jiggery-pokery) and hugely rewarding (when you are able to bring consensus and move things forward). These sort of roles can be both remunerated or pro bono, often depending on the nature of the organisation. The sort of organisations that look for non-execs who can offer their time for free are charities, educational institutions and government bodies.
Incidentally, I am currently looking for non-executive roles in or around London, UK so if you’re looking or know anyone who is, get in touch!
Sponsor a Local Sports Team
This is a no brainer, it’s a great way to show your support for your community (not to mention getting a bit of marketing fillip!) Uniforms, travel, equipment, training — the list is as long or as short as you want it to be, and if you’re a sports fan yourself then that’s just an added bonus!
Give Your Time When and Where You Can
This is the essence; as business owners and operators, our most valuable resource is our time. Doing any of the things I mention above will normally require some commitment from you which may take time away from your business or your family. You’ve got to prioritise what matters most and do what works best for you, so if you can’t give an hour a week, give an hour a month. Or give it when you can and where you want to, whether that’s at a soup kitchen, at your local council or at your kids school.
There is are inexhaustible opportunities to give back, and whilst there is definitely no obligation to do so, I can almost guarantee that you’ll find it incredibly gratifying and immensely rewarding in ways you wouldn’t anticipate and that I would struggle to describe.
How do you give back to the communities you work in? What might you consider doing in 2017?
For now though, all that’s left for me to say is…
A Safe and Prosperous Start to 2017 to All!