For many small business owners, the true test of success cannot simply be measured in register receipts. Knowing the value you bring to the community you serve — the job creation, support of other local businesses, team sponsorships and the contributions of resources and expertise — is the real and lasting sweet spot of small business ownership. It’s a win-win that has a positive impact on the bottom line and should be an integral part of every business plan. As these five business owners will attest, small businesses impact community identity and the connectedness that keeps people rooted to the places they call home and loyal to the places they choose to patronize.

 Women hold signs at outdoor event
Meaningful partnerships with organizations like Make-A-Wish is just one of the ways the Approach Marketing team rallies to support its Worthington, OH community and beyond. — Approach Marketing

Megan Shroy, founder and president, Approach Marketing

Who we are: A team of experienced marketing consultants who create highly customized strategic plans to reach and inspire critical audiences.

Since launching over 10 years ago, Approach Marketing has remained invested in the community, the missions of our clients and the greater good of fellow business owners. At the onset of the pandemic, we felt helpless in many ways, but it became important for us to embrace a “serve first” mentality, contributing what we could — expert advice and free resources such as videos, handouts and tips to those facing important decisions about how to adapt their businesses or stay afloat.

For several years, Approach has been a partner of Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, helping to grant the wishes of critically ill children across this tri-state region. The agency made a financial contribution to grant the wish of a boy named Trevor to become a construction worker for a day (just like his dad) and the Approach team was able to help with on-site event planning and media support. Like Make-A-Wish, Approach dedicates its time and talents to organizations the team is passionate about, including Dress for Success, the Homeless Families Foundation and Ruling Our Experiences.

I am additionally involved with CABLE (the Communication and Business Leadership Experience) at my alma mater, Wittenberg University. This program helps students learn how to present themselves professionally, network with communication practitioners in a variety of fields, conduct research on communications case studies and present recommendations to leading organizations. To support new graduates, our team also helps review resumes and offer career search advice. Follow Approach Marketing on LinkedIn, Instagram & Facebook, and follow Megan Shroy on LinkedIn.

 Business owners smile in front of boxed products
Family Bagels of Plainview lives up to its name by serving and supporting local families, from lovingly catering events to donating meals to frontline workers during the pandemic. — Family Bagels of Plainview

Neal and Michael Schatt, owners, Family Bagels of Plainview

Who we are: Plainview, NY specialty food store committed to spreading the love … one bagel at a time.

Family Bagels is not just any bagel store. With the motto “It’s All About Family,” we strive to make our customers feel like “family” from the moment they walk into the store, greeting everyone on a first-name basis, and picking up the conversation where we left off the day before. Our commitment to our community goes beyond just writing a check and making a donation. The Schatt family is proud to be immersed in the lives of our community, which also provides us with the perfect opportunity to get involved with our “family members” whenever and however needed. Whether it is donating the proceeds from the purchase of our specialty colored bagels, supporting causes like breast cancer or Alzheimer's disease awareness or organizing a fundraiser involving other local vendors to help community members with special circumstances or needs, Family Bagels is always involved.

In our effort to provide exposure and garner support for student groups and community members with fundraising goals, we “sweeten the deal” by donating raffle prizes like gift cards, gourmet coffee, apparel and even tickets to local shows, all with the purpose of encouraging participation. We leverage our strong social media presence on Facebook and Instagram as well as on our in-store digital media screens to get the word out about upcoming local events.

During the pandemic, Family Bagels donated and delivered daily meals to healthcare heroes working at Plainview and Syosset hospitals. Family Bagels also delivered meals to families who fell on hard times with a “no questions asked” policy. Giving back and community involvement has always been at the forefront of our business. It wasn’t a decision to have community involvement, it was just a natural progression. Follow Family Bagels of Plainview on Instagram & Facebook.

 Smiling women pose at corporate event
One of the many ways treetree encourages its team to give back to area nonprofits and organizations is dedicated volunteer efforts that facilitate acts of service. — treetree

Becca Apfelstadt, co-founder and CEO, treetree

Who we are: A Columbus, OH-based marketing agency that delivers creative firepower for B2B giants.

treetree believes in not only supporting the community through giving back — both in terms of time and money — but also through the work nonprofits. The agency has a volunteer policy that gives employees hours to volunteer for a cause of their choice. Employees have used that time to speak at schools, help out on-site at local charities and wrap gifts for non-profits during the holidays. treetree also makes charitable contributions whenever resources and funds allow such as a recent sponsorship as Corporate Change Agent of ROX/LeanIn.

Additionally, the agency works with nonprofits to provide marketing support at a discounted rate. An example is our marketing strategy work for Flying Horse Farms, a medical specialty camp that hosts experiences for seriously ill children and their families, free of charge. The support we provided for the camp’s annual fundraising event resulted in the nonprofit exceeding its fundraising goal by 5% and an increase in the average donor gift by 16%. As treetree's co-founder and CEO, I also regularly support women entrepreneurs in Columbus through informal mentoring and small groups I have formed. Follow treetree on LinkedIn, Instagram & Facebook.

 Group of people stand outside a outdoor equipment storefront
Family-run Big Bear Gear & Rentals of Lambertville, NJ expertly equips the community with everything it needs to enjoy the great outdoors. — Big Bear Gear & Rentals

Michael Ehrenreich and Rebecca Gelman, owners, Big Bear Gear

Who we are: Outdoor clothing and equipment shop out of Lambertville NJ that brings nature-driven experiences, education and gear to the public.

While Big Bear Gear sells outdoor gear, what we really offer is experience. The sort of thing you can't buy online. We see ourselves as part store, part community center. Our goal is to get people engaged in new outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, tubing, camping and more. We offer demos, small classes and equipment rentals to help people learn new skills and get comfortable in natural environments.

In terms of community partners, we host the boats for the local U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and their programs to promote boat safety. We support local organizations like The Sourland Conservancy and the Watershed Institute by supporting their efforts to create environmental awareness. We have a beautiful property across from the Delaware and Raritan (D&R) Canal and, this year, we are sharing it with the public by offering an outdoor concert series. We feel that in the COVID era, we have a perfect outdoor venue to safely offer live music to people and help get musicians back to work. We will also sponsor a river cleanup day this summer to help keep the D&R shores clean and raise awareness of the effects that littering has on the local landscape. Follow Big Bear Gear on Instagram, Twitter & Facebook.

 Van is parked at cliff's edge, overlooking mountains and body of water.
Dallas’ Bloomin Blinds gave back to other businesses in the region with a Back-to-Business contest to help other small business foster post-pandemic success. — Bloomin' Blinds

Kris Stuart, VP & COO, Bloomin’ Blinds

Who we are: Dallas, TX-based window treatment business specializing in quality blind, shade and shutter repair and installation.

As the world continues to grapple with the lasting impacts of the pandemic, small business America remains one of the most impacted sectors of the economy. Bloomin’ Blinds launched the Back-to-Business contest, calling all small business owners, their teams and loyal customers to nominate a deserving business for a chance to win updated window treatments and a $1000 gift card to reinvigorate their office or storefront for post-pandemic success.

Bloomin’ was fortunate enough to be part of the successful home service sector throughout the pandemic. One thing we pride ourselves in is resilience. We are blessed to have helped promote that during this time. This contest is our way of continuing to promote and support other small businesses who have also found resilience amidst the pandemic and are deserving of a reward as a way to say ‘job well done!’ as we come to the light at the end of this tunnel. Follow Bloomin’ Blinds on LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest & Facebook.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Event Recap: Mastering Leadership Skills

Watch the replay from our latest Roadmap for Rebuilding event, where the panel discusses how to best manage employees and build cohesive teams.



Published June 11, 2021