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Take Care of Your Community - And It Will Take Care of You.

Microsoft announced recently that it plans to spend $500 million on affordable housing in the Seattle area, possibly setting a precedent for how large corporations reach out to the communities they serve - as well as help to solve problems they had a hand in creating.

Seattle is considered by many to be a thriving city in America. Big tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft have a presence in the area and they brought along many employees. On the surface, this is good. Having big businesses in an expanding industry move into an area creates jobs and can turn the fortunes of a city around quickly.

But, looking deeper, it helped to create a burgeoning housing crisis.

As more talented tech employees got jobs at places like Microsoft, the larger share of the housing market they consumed. This sudden influx of well-paid talent moving to the area has worked to push out current residents and drive up prices. All this doesn’t necessarily need to be Microsoft’s problem - they are doing a lot of good by providing jobs to a market in need of more jobs.

However, Microsoft saw an avenue for them to have a positive impact on the local community, aside from just providing jobs to people well qualified to have jobs without them. And they took the opportunity. They are pledging half a million dollars to affordable housing in the area, which will alleviate strain and tension in an area that they’ve commandeered.

The cynical point of view might mention that Microsoft is sure to find a way to get tax breaks and other perks from doing something so altruistic. Other skeptics might suggest that the act might not be as altruistic as it seems. But it raises an interesting question for business owners.

How responsible are you for your footprint?

If you run a small business, you can only dream of the day when a problem of yours is to consider the negative impact of how much money you’re pulling in. But like Microsoft, Amazon, or newer businesses like Venmo or Uber - any business owner is one great idea away from becoming the next big thing.

If you make it a habit of contributing positively to the community you exist in, you can earn trust, gain greater exposure and increase your business network beyond the people you’re prospecting purely for business.

In the age of social media and the immediacy of the internet, large corporations are realizing that just having a good ad campaign and a solid PR team aren’t enough to create brand loyalty. Particularly with millennials, more people are making decisions on where they spend money based on WHO the businesses is - not necessarily what the business is.

To succeed, it’s important to persuade people why spending their money with you is better than spending their money elsewhere. If Microsoft helped you live in a great city, wouldn’t you be more inclined to buy a Microsoft product?

Being altruistic, taking an active role in your community, and being aware of the needs of your community go a long way in helping people decide to spend money on your products and services - rather than elsewhere.

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