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Paying It Forward in the Business World

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You may have noticed a recent social media flurry calling for people to pay it forward in 2014. You may even already be aware and gearing up for the UK Pay It Forward Day taking place on the 24 April?

It is great that this concept is now getting some increased attention as it is a philosophy that is close to my heart.

In my early years of business I remember being passionate about making giving good for business and being impressed by Dame Anita Roddick, Founder of the Body Shop, who back then was the only high profile business person in the UK who stood out from the crowd. Her passionate idealism and radical approach to ethical business started a new, exciting wave of philanthropy that continues to sweep the business world.

Charitable Foundations set up by organisations are now more common than ever. Bill Gates led the way with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that encouraged billionaires to pledge at least 50% of their fortunes as a legacy to philanthropic causes.

Innocent Drinks actively encourage their customers to start a chain of good on their website and have always donated 10% of their profits to charity. Even media stars such as Bono, JK Rowling and Oprah regularly give generously and speak up and take actions for their favourite causes.

What about the rest of us mere mortals though? Is giving, good for our businesses too? Especially when you are a small to medium sized enterprise?

Giving back and paying it forward have always been central to the way I like to do business. Giving to and helping others makes both the giver and the receiver feel good and in my experience a generous approach to life pays dividends in goodwill for business too.

Through my business, The Coaching Academy, we partnered with the Dame Kelly Holmes Legacy Trust to offer free business coaching and training to retired athletes looking to set up a business. In return they give their time mentoring young people and giving talks in schools, many of which are in disadvantage areas. It is a very simple solution to a cause that fits into my business well.

Doing good doesn't have to only be about making grand gestures. It is about grass roots giving that can offer someone else a chance. Begin by asking, what skills do you have that others might need? What small commitment can you make that might make a difference?

If every business was committed to making a positive difference in some way the world would become a better place very quickly. Business people are often short of time, but are great at making things happen. There's no need to wait, we can all start now!