Posts Tagged ‘goals’
Every time I work with a business owner and am presented with a new situation, I often find myself thinking back to how I would handle that in the sports world. You see, when I not running my business coaching practice during the day, in the evenings and on weekends you will find me on the soccer field. I have the privilege of coaching in the highly competitive soccer programs at the Brandon Football Club. I am passionate about the sport and passionate about watching the players challenge themselves to greater success. Prior to coaching here locally at the club, I coached at other area clubs and with the USA Under 17 Men’s National team, and the story was the same. The highly elite athletes pushed themselves to such thresholds of success and achieved. Why would that be different in business? Why would the coaching I provide them be any different than a business owner?
My sports background has been invaluable in business and in coaching. There are a lot of similarities between sports coaching and business coaching. Both are about looking for ways to do things better and more efficiently. I like to think about coaching as bridging the gap to what you already know and where you should be performing. Having a second opinion or strategy from a coach might be the difference where you are currently operating at and where you should be.
The success on the soccer fields with my teams is really helping me develop other business owners through coaching. I often work with people who just got into business but have no idea what is involved in running it. We work through a business plan, growth strategies, and implementation. Typically, within three months, the business goes from losing money to making a very good bottom line profit. Coaching is not about fixing businesses, it’s all about working with businesses to find and implement solutions while writing the systems for long term success. When we coach clients, we use a strong process and strategies to help the business owners get change in their organization by answering their own questions.
You need to remember most people are in business because it’s something they’ve always wanted but now they’re working in it, not on it, and have no idea how to pull up. It’s important to have fun when you’re in business – so it’s supporting a lifestyle and is a choice. Business owners generally have a high emotional attachment to their business. Their two main passions tend to be their family and their business, in that order. Often when we’re dealing with a business owner, a lot of their focus in the business is to take care of their family; a lot may have taken large loans or borrowed against their home. It’s a space we have to be very aware of when coaching.
Most businesses we speak with seeking coaching assistance want to know how they can maintain and improve their margins through this recessionary environment. There is so much great business here in the Tampa area and those are the success stories we are hearing from our clients through coaching. With the recession, people are re-evaluating their business models and considering how they might change to become more profitable.
If I can continue to remember my roots to the sports world and install the passion that my athletes have into business owners into their business, then we have a great formula for success. This success does not only help the business or the owners, but we all win because we are building an economy that is thriving and succeeding together.
As business owner and CEO, there is no doubt you know that it’s your responsibility to insure that everybody throughout your organization clearly understands the vision of the company, its values, and the mission of the organization. It never fails that every time I speak to business owners that haven’t grown or have high employee turnover, they either don’t have one or if they do, it’s not clearly communicated.
The vision in its simple form is the ability to see beyond what is to what could be. The essence of all leadership begins with vision. As business owner, you must consciously craft and communicate your vision. You want to create a vision that others will say, “we want to do that too.” The power in the vision statement is the back story that comes behind it. For example, Coca Cola’s vision statement is Coke, within an arms reach of every human on the planet. Why is that Coca Cola’s vision statement? It was crafted in the mid 1970’s when Coke was dominating the United States. They had clear market share and their top executives and managers had become stagnant. They needed to regroup and develop a new vision that would motivate them and their employees for more. As we know, today, Coke is a global leader and is really close to being within an arms reach of everyone. You see, your vision is the magnet that pulls people towards a seemingly unattainable goal. Without vision and only having goals that employees need to accomplish, you will get resistance, discontent, unmotivated employees and loss of business. They will only push back instead of working towards that vision with you.
So here’s a tip: On a regular basis, once a week ideally, once a month if necessary, but at minimum once a quarter, take some time and push out a message to all of your employees. You can use email, a newsletter, or maybe even a recorded voice message. Use that message to reset the scales. Re-communicate the vision of the organization. If possible communicate something that the company has done recently to move closer to that vision. Review your mission and communicate a strategic initiative that was accomplished that gets the company closer to serving that mission. When you do send this message, be sure to let people know how they can contribute to living the vision and accomplishing the mission.
Like many other business owners, you go to work every day and proud because you own your own business and you don’t have to work for the man. But how happy are you with the direction your business is heading? Do you work more hours now then when in the corporate world? Are you making the money you dreamed of when you opened your small business? It is important that in setting up your new business, you have a clear vision of what you want to achieve from it. One of the areas you should be thinking of at an early state is how you are going to get out. To maximize the value you get from the business it’s essential to think about how you’ll leave it further down the line.
Carefully planning your exit from the business can help you mold your business into the ideal shape for your chosen exit option thus maximizing the value you get from it. It can prepare successors if they’re coming from within the business, whether they’re a family member or part of your management team. It frees you from deciding to exit at a time of your choice.
We recommend including an exit strategy in your start-up business plan. It can then be reviewed and revised whenever you work on your annual business plan and budget and you can steer your business in the direction that your exit option demands. If your existing business does not have plan, you should now think about what your preferred exit option might be and consider whether you could change the way you run your business to help you achieve it.
Here at Estrada Strategies, we advise businesses owners on developing there exit strategy by doing these simple steps:
1. Build systems to guide your team in every area of the business. Systems are the key to successfully engage other people in the conduct of your business. Without them, people will often fall short of your expectations because they won’t know exactly what your expectations are or how to meet them in their work. Remember this core rule of systems, “anything that resides above your shoulders in not a system. This means if you have not yet written the system down in a way that you could hand it off to someone else, your not done making the system.
2. Create team building systems and process to find and keep the right people in the right jobs. If I could collect a dime for every time a business owner has told me their biggest struggle was finding and keeping the right people, I am sure I could retire today. It is one of the most common complaints business owners have. At its heart, this complaint exposes two problems. First, most small business owners don’t know how to put all the tools in place to make sure they are hiring well. Second, most small business owners don’t know how to monitor and motivate their team for success. If you want to have your business ready to hand off to the next owner/leader, you need to have people in place who know what to do, how to do it, and most important how to make sure the owner knows that it is getting done!
3. Let go! This is the most important thing I can tell you about creating value in your business. It is also the most difficult thing for most business owners to do. I ask my clients all the time to consider three questions: a. What are you doing? b. Why are you doing it? c. Who else on your team should be doing this? The point is to challenge our built in tendency to keep control of critical functions in the business because we are afraid that others will not live up to our expectations or that the business will fail if we are not personally doing that work. I know from personal experience how hard it is to let go of that control. I also know how important it is to make this happen.
Of course, the secret to letting go is finding success in the first two tips I offered. If you have good systems in place for every function of the business, and if your systems include great tools and process for recruiting, training, motivating and monitoring the success of your team, then letting go is actually easy. You learn to let go because you discover you can trust others to succeed if you have given them all the tools they need.
Why don’t most business owners have a succession plan or exit strategy in place? Fear, over confidence, lack of awareness, and uncertainty probably all play some role. At the center though is one simple consideration. Most small business owners don’t know how to make the changes needed in themselves or in the business to make the exit strategy or succession work. For this, you need to find and engage the services of someone who can guide you through the process. A business coach, a mentor, an adviser, or even a board of directors can all be part of the process. Whatever you do, don’t make the critical mistake of doing nothing and finding out too late that your opportunities are now gone.
If you have read through this far, I would love to hear from you about your plans for exit or succession. Please join the conversation and let us know how you are getting it done or, what obstacles are keeping you from making it work.
I very often speak to business owners and often hear about their common obstacles or reasons to stall out in growth. After several months of listening to business owners, I have compiled this list of common barriers and some simple solutions to help get passed that obstacle.
This first one, usually is the most offensive and largest obstacle and that’s the actual owner. You have to devote time to plan and manage the growth of your business. Growth management is a lot of work, yet you are extremely busy running your business. Your first step is to delegate some of your work. This is always a painful process but it must be done. Identify activities you should delegate and hand it over, over course, with a clear system on how to get it done.
You cannot grow your business without the help of other people. This is well understood and yet business owners have the recurring problem of not getting the right people into the right positions at the right time. Or when they do find the people they find the results are less than satisfactory. Spend time defining the job that you want done. The definition must include the job responsibility, the authority, the job duties and, most important, your expectations. This is not just for employees. Do this for anyone who does work for you; try it on your accountant!
Growing needs money and properly managing it. Do your annual budget, detailing your monthly revenue expectations and expenses. Convert the budget into a monthly cash flow analysis; you might sell $1,000 in January but not get paid until February. The cash flow will tell you two very important things; how much extra funding you will need each month and what will be the total funding requirements.
Processes are the engines of the business and if they are not documented you will be constantly reinventing the wheel and/or the results will be error prone. If they are not documented how will you delegate?
Planning and strategic plans are your road map to growth. They contain measurable three year objectives, each of which are broken down into one year strategies and detailed Action Plans. Now you can track your growth on a week-by-week basis, implementing corrective action before a crisis halts your growth. You are proactive! Philip Orsini, entrepreneur and writer, wrote in his book Successful Business Expansion “Companies don’t fail because they grow. They fail because they don’t plan their growth.”
Eliminate these common obstacles in business growth and your business can be as large as you want it to be. It can be everything you want it to be and more, you just have to plan at it and work on the right activities. Go out there and be the CEO of your business!
Like many people, I went into business ownership because I’m good at what I do. My venture into business ownership would have never become reality without doing my research. Once I decided to leave the corporate world to start your my own business, it took a careful analysis of my skills and know-how. Then I was convinced that I wanted to be my own boss. I know I have what it takes to succeed.
But do you know where and what to start? The first thing to remember is that there is no surefire formula for starting a business. What works well for some may not be the best choice for you. In the same token, the business that you can turn into a financial success may not augur well for others. Your road to business ownership can lead to three directions. You can opt to develop your own concept and start a business from scratch or you can either buy a franchise or purchase an existing business.
I decided to go the franchise route as I felt it suited me best after extensive research. For me, starting from scratch was too difficult or tedious. Why reinvent the wheel when you can buy your dream business? The choice is yours. I found these tips online outlining the pros and cons of each road to business ownership. They helped me choose my path.
- Starting Your Own Business.
Starting an independent business of your own offers several advantages. You are free from contractual obligations required from franchisees, and from any precedents established by the previous business owner. You are able to start on a fresh, clean slate with total control on how the business is shaped and managed. You are free to offer a pioneering and proprietary product that could help you dominate your market. You can start with a bang, or at a slower pace, depending on your resources and entrepreneurial goals. There is no required upfront investment that you must raise; except for the level that you think your business requires to be successfully launched. You can choose the location you want, determine the products and service that you market, and decide whether you need employees or not.
The downside of starting a business from scratch could also be numerous. A new business entails greater risk than buying an established business or franchise. You need to determine whether a need exists for your products or service; and if it does, work to create awareness and branding. The start-up process also necessitates you to do the groundwork process by yourself – from business licenses and permits, establishing relations with suppliers, and establishing a customer base to support operations. Many new start-up businesses, particularly home businesses, find it hard to secure financing given the lack of operating histories and inexperience of the people involved.
A new business will require a longer period of time to show profits, if at all. Entrepreneurs who decide on venturing on their own must be willing to dedicate considerable time and energy to establishing and nurturing the business.
Franchising incorporates the features of both a start-up and an existing operation. The franchise is the right to sell a product or service. When you purchase a franchise you are basically paying for the right to market an already established product or service owned by somebody else (the franchisor). Under your franchise agreement, you (the franchisee) are expected to market the product/service successfully.
This alternative route to business ownership has some distinct advantages. Risk is minimized, since a well-established franchise has a proven business method with established products or services.
Many franchise organizations also provide extensive assistance in terms of marketing, advertising, even managerial support. Oftentimes, management training and follow-up assistance are provided. In many instances, In addition, you can realize cost savings on inventory items, supplies and equipment due to bulk purchase orders made by the franchisor, which in turn is passed on to franchisees. Some franchisors also assist the franchisee in securing financing, while some provide the funding themselves. Franchisees find it easier to convince banks and other lenders to provide loans because franchises are less risky than start-up businesses. Support can also be given in finding the right location, while some provide the layout, display, facilities and business techniques that have already proven successful in previous operations.
Franchising could present problems to the business owner. At the onset, the high franchise fees required to be paid to the franchisor at the start of the franchise agreement may discourage any prospective business owners. Front fees can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the franchise. While some franchisors may require high initial fees, the trade-off may be poor support functions once the operations begin.
In addition to the upfront fees, royalty fees are also required on a monthly basis. The royalty fees are monthly payments based on a certain percentage of the franchisee’s income or sales, varying between 1 and 20 percent. Note that you still need to pay royalty fees even if the business is not profitable.
3. Buying An Existing Operation.
Buying an existing business offers several pluses worth noting. For one, it reduces the time and cost associated with establishing a new business. Someone else has gotten the company started, and much of the legwork associated with starting out is already completed. The customer base has already been established, and relationships with suppliers have been created. In some cases, you can even continue the status quo once you take over, particularly if the business is doing well. Some business buyers even employ the former owner either on a part-time or a full-time basis on a limited time to help ease the transition process. In addition to eliminating a competitor, the former business owner can even share with you tips and experiences he or she have had in running the business, thereby shortening your learning curve.
The biggest advantage to buying a firm is that the business already has a proven track record. As a result, you may have an easier time in securing financing. Plus, there is shorter waiting time for a business to become profitable because your existing inventory and receivables can already generate income for you from your first day. A business is also less likely to fail if it has been around for quite some time.
However, you should be aware of some of the common pitfalls in buying an existing operation. For one, the cost may be too high compared to starting a business from scratch as a result of inflated estimates of worth. The business may not be performing as well as expected and there may be inherent operational and logistical problems that may not be apparent until after the sale. Equipment and inventories may be obsolete. Receivables may be stale and uncollectable. Customer relations may not be all that well, and relationships with suppliers might be in bad shape. The distribution system may be falling apart and the physical location of the business may not be ideal. Also, be wary of potential personality conflicts with the employees and managers, who may or may not welcome you as the new owner.
I met this incredibly talented lady yesterday who performs Kolbe Index assessments on individuals and she got me thinking about how to maximize the effectiveness of your employees. Do you have your employees working at full potential? As a business owner, one of the most important parts of your business is your staff. They are the hard-working people who should challenge you to be the best leader you can be and who drive the company to new levels of success.
Business owners must get the most out of their members of staff so that they can get the most from their business, as it ought to have a positive effect on the company. Improving morale, which should also improve productivity, can be achieved in a variety of ways.
What signs are you looking for if you sense lowered performance in your business? To start, employees don’t look busy. Individual, team or unit productivity have decreased from where it should be. Morale is down and you sense that “things” could be better.
If these are the signs, what are the effects? Certainly workers could be more satisfied; but they’re not. Their lack of energy results in less spontaneity and productivity. Revenue and profitability suffer, as does individual satisfaction.
So what can you do? First take the temperature of the work environment. You need to gather data to support your thoughts and impressions; compare the current quarter’s numbers with those from previous quarters. Look at and compare individual rates of productivity. Then gather impressions from other supervisors or managers to share and compare individual perspectives and perceptions. Finally, summarize your data into conclusions.
Understand that each employee is different. Although it may be easy to paint all employees with the same brush, it is very important to realize that every individual is unique. Rather than thinking of my employees as a single, uniform workforce, I make it a point to realize the diversity of my staff and the potential inherent in that diversity. Realizing that my employees have different needs, requirements, expectations and advantages is the first step to realizing their full potential.
Reward your employees (… and not just with money!) Even though this may seem like a risky proposition, rewarding employees can be a great motivator in general. Rewards do not necessarily have to be in the form of money. Rewards can include verbal recognition, employee perks such as lunches or even other ongoing incentives like paying for family events.
Don’t be afraid to fire employees. While it is never the intention of an employer to hire someone who doesn’t work out, sometimes cutting an employee loose in order to maintain workplace harmony is a necessary part of running a business. As an employer, I can’t and shouldn’t avoid taking the lead on issues that jeopardize any aspect of my business. The longer I wait, the more damage will be done.
To get the most out of each employee, first ask the employee his opinion of the situation and then address the concerns. Next, help the employee understand his needs in terms of direction, structure and control. To save the situation and improve productivity, start with clarification of working styles. Then look for opportunities to reach compromises between individual needs and motivational styles.
When it comes down to it, running a business is a lot like reading a bestselling business book, every day is a chapter full of lessons and better business practices. The trick is to absorb as much information as possible and then utilize the tools at your disposal to make yourself and your employees better. Implementing some of the above strategies can help to get the best out of your workers, who in turn will help to get the most out of your business. All you have to do is discover how to manage and lead them efficiently and aid them to shine.
One of the cornerstones for small business success is the need for strategic planning. Most business owners I speak with fail to grow their business because they lack a strategic plan to realize their vision. Another common issue I hear among those owners is the lack of effective implementation once a plan is developed. Mostly due to lack of time or not focusing on the right daily activities as the owner.
For a small business, a strategic plan is essentially a step by step guide to map out how it will reach goals and objectives. It starts with a vision of what the business will be and how it will function in the near future, typically 3 to 5 years out. The plan also serves as a systematic tool for implementing the strategies. The goal is to integrate every aspect of the business into a systemic approach for achieving the vision of the business.
When considering your strategic plan, the first question you must answer is what, exactly, do you want to accomplish? Once that has been determined you will then need to develop your strategy for making it happen. As the old adage goes, “Plan your work and work your plan.”
The belief that strategic planning is only for large businesses that can afford the time and personnel to develop a sound plan is a common trap that stunts growth in small business. To compete against bigger companies, you need to learn some of their game plans and strategic planning. It’s a major part of their success! That does not mean that your business needs a complex plan. You can in a matter of hours sketch out a good working draft that will help keep you on course to becoming a solid competitor. Let’s take a look at the basics that will get your business strategically positioned to develop in the direction you want it to go.
What is strategic planning and how does it differ from other types of planning? Strategic planning involves setting up a strategy that your business is going to follow over a defined time period. Without a strategy your business has no direction. Strategy tells where you want to go. It is like baking a cake without flour. It can be done, but the results may not be what you desire. It is like playing a sport, running a marathon or playing soccer. Without a strategy, your chance of achieving your goals is significantly diminished.
Every action taken should fit with the direction you want the business to go, so every action should be in alignment with your strategy. That means every employee knows the strategy and understands their part in making it happen. Your strategy should not be set in stone. It needs to be revisited and revised at regular intervals, related to how quickly your industry is changing. Set a good process and follow it.
The format in which the plan is written is not important as long as you include the components that define the plan. The most important criteria is find a format that works for your business and one that can be easily followed. In the simplest form the components of your plan should include the business purpose, organizational goals, strategies of reaching each goal, the action plan to implement each goal and a system to monitor.
I challenge you to go out and write your strategic plan if you do not have one. If you do have one, is it addressing the critical components to take your business to the next level? This may be the step that puts you in the league with the “big guys”.
There are dozens of reasons people choose to open their own business. They love to make their own hours, pursue their own goals, and focus on things that are important to them. But if there’s one thing most business owners wish they could do more of, it’s taking time off for vacation. Most business owners say taking a week off is nearly impossible. It’s a common misconception that self-employed entrepreneurs can simply lock their office door and turn off their phone to escape a hectic workday, but it’s just not true. Three day work weeks and afternoon cocktails may seem all the more attainable when you’re working for yourself, but the reality is, in order to be successful, you’re going to need to work twice as hard and focus on the right tasks as the business owner to get there.
It’s completely natural and absolutely necessary for entrepreneurs to be driven to succeed. Unfortunately, this drive can lead to logging plenty of unscheduled overtime. When you do your annual budgeting for your business, schedule in enough revenue so that you can afford the cost of the vacations as well as the cost of not earning money for the weeks you’re away. Vacations are mandatory for business owners. We all need a break from our businesses, from the high-energy involvement and from the stress. You need time to pay attention to yourself, to those you love, and to do the other things you enjoy. You need a place to clear your head and step away from the everyday busy work of your business.
When you return from vacation, you’re refreshed. Your head is clear to make some major strategy decisions about the direction of your business for the next couple of years, without even really thinking about your business consciously. You allow your sub-conscious to process all the questions and decisions you need to make about your business, then allow the answers to slowly bubble to the surface.
When you return to your office from vacation, you feel a rush of energy and a great clarity of thinking. You bring back the slow, calm, peaceful feelings you felt while away into your daily business life.
Taking time off when you’re self-employed takes some planning. You can’t just hand in a vacation request and be done with it. Before you can close shop, you’ll need to notify any appropriate contacts, and ensure that potential clients are made aware of your absence. Here are some easy steps you can take when scheduling your next vacation:
1. Begin notifying clients one month in advance. This may seem a bit drastic, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Try to notify every client individually at first. Once you’ve done this, include a footer in subsequent e-mails that states when your office will be closed. If you’re clients missed the first message, they’ll certainly notice the footer in subsequent communications.
2. Wrap up projects early. If you’ve signed a contract that coincides with your vacation you’ve got one of two options. Your best choice is to finish the contract early. If there’s no way that you’ll be able to complete the scheduled tasks in time, contact your client as soon as possible in order to renegotiate the due date. The more notice you provide the client, the more likely he or she will be open to negotiations.
3. Cut back! This doesn’t mean you have to say no to a potential client. When pitching to a new business contact, simply make it clear that you have a prior commitment and will be unable to start the project until after a specific date. Your client will appreciate your honesty and you’ll avoid a significant jump in your stress level.
4. Post an “out of office” message in all the right places. This includes an auto-response in your e-mail, a message on your voicemail, a post on your blog, a farewell Tweet, and a message to Facebook followers. In each post, encourage visitors to contact you while you’re gone, noting your preferred mode of communication. State when you’ll be back and when they can expect you to send a follow-up.
The single greatest challenge we face as business owners is how to scale our business and make sure we are working on the right things. We often ask how in the world do I turn the ideas and skills that I have into a scalable, profitable business that I could sell in the future or hand down to a family member?
Focusing on the right tasks are the most important things that a business owner needs to be working on and often their biggest challenge. To overcome this, you must be a master of delegation and make sure the daily work is getting done through others.
How do you do that? What we have learned so far about scaling your business is the first thing you must do is document everything. Anything that comes as second nature to you (how to do basic keyword research for example) needs to be documented so you have a system in place for the task to get done through an employee. Think about the projects that take a lot of your time and ask yourself “Could someone else do this 10 hour project if I spent 5 minutes outlining the process?” If the answer is “Yes” then outsource it. Or, outline the process into a single page system and give it to an employee. A good place to start is by outsourcing your bookkeeping to a CPA.
The next step would be to break your entire business down into small “daily behaviors”. Daily behaviors are tasks, often repetitive, that grow your business (ie, make 15 sales call or attending two networking events per week). In your organization chart, map out who specifically does these behaviors.
You must be able to teach or explain your businesses basic concepts to your workers. Or at least point them in the right direction. Your employees should learn from your mistakes. If a concept or skill took you three years to master via trial and error, you should be able to train your workers to master that skill in three months or less. They shouldn’t have to make your mistakes.
It is very important to monitor your ideas, thoughts, and goals. Keep them front of mind so you are always working on the right thing. Have a system in place that keeps you focused on important initiatives that will lead to business growth.
If at all possible, keep at least a $5,000-$10,000 cushion in your business account. If you don’t have $5,000, then make that a priority goal. This prevents cash flow issues when you didn’t budget correctly.
Following these simple steps will help solve your problem of scaling your personal knowledge into a fully functioning business. Over time, you will see your business begin to operate smoothly without you doing the majority of the daily work and grow nicely
I have found many satisfying personal benefits in giving back to my community. As an emerging young professional, investing in your community is a great way to give back to those who will help support your business. As part of your networking activities to grow your business, consider looking into volunteer groups and non-profit organizations that do so much to help the communities that all of us are a part of. They can’t do it alone! Supporting their efforts will help you be recognized as a leader in your market.
To be a successful member of the community, we have a responsibility to help those that are less fortunate and contribute to the common good. At Estrada Strategies, we feel so strongly about this that one of our core values is community service. Giving your time speaks louder than giving money. Building relationships based on a common passion through community service will show your true caring and hardworking characteristics. That’s what consumers really want in a company or individual. It can raise your business’ profile and even bring you more customers or clients. Giving back to the community gives you a pleasant feeling of connectedness and the satisfaction of at least trying to make the world a better place. There are tangible benefits to giving back to the community, too. For one thing, if you give enough, you’ll be able to use the charitable deduction on your income tax.
A great way to also reap the business benefits of giving back to the community is by getting you in front of the media from your charitable work. Local newspapers are filled with photos of business people presenting checks to the directors of charitable organizations, which is great publicity. Many businesses even include their charitable work in their advertisements, adding copy such as “5 percent of sales will be donated to (specific charity)”, or sponsor particular charitable events. Potential customers like the sense of being able to combine their pleasure in patronizing a business with the pleasurable sense of helping others.
Here are 6 more reasons to give back:
1. Develop new skills. Gaining skills, knowledge and expertise are common side effects of volunteering. Giving others your time brings you interesting and challenging opportunities that might not come along otherwise.
2. Make social connections. Volunteering can relieve this sense of social isolation and help you fill empty hours in the day.
3. Personal Growth. Volunteering is an excellent way to explore your likes and dislikes.
4. Gain a new perspective. Life can be hard and when you’re feeling down, your problems can seem insurmountable. Volunteering can offer a new perspective—seeing people who are worse off than you are, yet still hanging in there, can help you see your life in a whole new light.
5. Know that you’re needed. Feeling needed and appreciated are important, and you may not get that appreciation from your paid work or home life where the things you do are expected or taken for granted. When you volunteer, you realize just how much you are truly needed. Meeting people who need your help is a strong incentive to continue.
6. Boost your self-esteem. Many volunteers experience a sense of increased self-esteem and greater self-worth. Helping others makes you feel good about yourself, because you’re doing something for someone that they couldn’t do for themselves.
Research has shown that the good feelings you experience when helping others may be just as important to your health as exercise and a healthy diet. But it’s the smile from a child or thankful person that shows you’re really making a difference in someone’s life. And that’s the greatest feeling in the world.
In conclusion I leave you with this quote from Alwyn Loh, a recent graduate of the University of Florida:
“Community service isn’t about padding one’s resume, it isn’t about doing things so that one might be proud and arrogant about it. But it is the dawning realization of to the greater understanding our humanity, our fragility and a greater appreciation of the great lives that so many of us lead and deem to be “normal” – when it pretty much is extraordinary in its own respect relative to many other individuals around the world.”