By Jennie Wong The Charlotte Observer.
It's easy to dream of the day when you'll be able to stroke a check for $50 million dollars for a good cause, the way Bill Gates just did via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (to fight the Ebola epidemic).
It's a tad harder to find a way to give back when you're just starting out, or running a one-person shop.
But whether you're a solopreneur or a newly-minted business owner still wet behind the ears, it's never too soon and you're never too small to make a meaningful contribution if you want to. Here's how:
Becca Bazzle is the owner of Charlotte, N.C.-based Essential Therapy, which provides therapeutic and medical massages.
Bazzle is a solopreneur (currently looking to hiring an additional therapist), but she doesn't let that stop her from giving back. "I like sponsoring local 5Ks and 10Ks because I get to work with the community. They're less hectic than marathons, plus, you're one of 10 or 20 sponsors instead of a hundred or more, so your service makes a bigger overall impression. You're also more likely to talk to customers in your home market, instead of people who've traveled across the country that you may never see again," Bazzle said.
Nanxi Liu is CEO of Enplug, a Los Angeles-based digital display software provider. Years ago, while working with UNICEF, she learned about the Chinese Children's Initiative, which brings basic services to millions of vulnerable, impoverished children in that country.
She got involved by helping establish a website for the initiative, and later she turned her focus to the annual fundraiser, which is entering its third year.
GIVE WHAT YOU HAVE
Often, the key to donating when you an entrepreneur is giving what you have, whatever that might mean for you.
Aimee Gallo and Krysta Johnson of Friendly Rooster have shoes, so that's what they give. For every pair of Tip Toey Joey shoes sold online, the Charlotte-based children's shoe company donates a pair of toddler shoes to a child in need in the United States through the Share Your Love of Shoes initiative.
For Barbara Green of Sensibly Chic, the natural gift for her is to make available the showroom of her interior design business.
"The space I leased was formerly an urban church, and when I (outfitted) it, I kept the area that was the altar to use as a stage. I thought it would be great to allow nonprofits to use the space for events," Green said in an email.
In the year since she opened, Green has provided a place for events from memorial services, Humane Society fundraisers, to LGBT organizations. "It has always been my belief that you cannot succeed unless you serve, and sharing this space was a great way to serve. ... I have gotten a few sales from visitors, and I view it as planting seeds, and eventually they will germinate into more business." ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Jennie Wong is an executive coach, author of the e-book "Ask the Mompreneur" and the creator of the product quiz website www.ABorC.com