11187827_10152852724971732_1632040097532649869_oLast week, we saw the best and the worst of the city of Baltimore. Sadly, the riots that followed Freddie Gray’s funeral overshadowed the week-long peaceful protests that shined a light on the significant challenges faced by the city. As we noted in our previous post, we’ll leave the social commentary to the sociologists, historians and (sensationalized) media. Instead, we want to highlight a couple of noteworthy events that came out of the turmoil and offer our two cents on lessons for small business owners.

Embrace your community. Whether you have a bricks and mortar storefront, operate out of a physical office space, or run a home-based business, you are tightly interwoven into the community in which you operate – creating jobs (yes, even if it’s just your own, it counts!), supporting the local economy, and serving those who live, work and play in your neighborhood. And demonstrating your support of your community should be an integral part of your brand. Whether you donate a gift certificate to a local elementary school auction, sponsor the local Little League team, volunteer with a local organization, or simply give away your products or services to those in need in your own backyard, you make a difference. We’d argue its more than generosity, it’s your responsibility to the community which supports your business.

Just a day after fires burned just down the street from its Baltimore home, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra brought the community together for a free outdoor concert. Standing ovation earned.

No, you don’t need to orchestrate (pun intended) dozens of world-renowned musicians to demonstrate community support. As an agile small business, you can play in active local role in any number of ways that work for you, make sense for your business, and best benefit your community.

Love thy brother. Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” In small business, it’s easy to get caught up in worrying about your competitor’s latest sale, contract win, or new product offering. The fact is, there’s a niche and enough business for everyone. And there’s tons to be learned through collaboration instead of constantly worrying about outdoing one another. But more on this in a future post… Back to kindness.

Recognizing the extreme hours and challenges associated with being the local authority on a national story with a difficult, emotionally charged subject matter, the Boston Globe sent lunch to the Baltimore Sun. One newsroom that’s been in the throes of a tough story to another. While in another circumstance, the two might be working to out-scoop one another, on this day, they were all journalists.

At the end of the day, business is about people. Embrace your community. #onemaryland