As an entrepreneur, it's important to give back. It can be something small -- like buying groceries for someone -- or something big -- like gifting a hard-working employee a car.

The typical argument against giving back is that it costs money. However, the monetary cost often pales in comparison to how good giving makes you feel. 

Research in 2018 from the Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics shows that contributing financially and non-financially to another person's well-being has a direct correlation to feeling happy.

Rather than waiting for an opportunity to appear, you can make these giving moments happen in the following five ways:

Become a mentor.

Looking for a fun way to give back? Join high school and college programs that encourage entrepreneurship and participate as an instructor or mentor. This way, students can benefit from what you've learned out in the field.

Across the country, there are mentoring programs that align with school district STEM and STEAM curriculums.

If there aren't any ways to give back in your local area, why not figure out how to start one?

Resources like the National Mentoring Partnership provide guidelines on how to create a mentoring program for youth. They also offer affiliates and partners across the country to help you develop and launch it.

Donate.

Another common way to give back is to donate equipment, furniture, business clothing, and other assets to homeless organizations. Many of these programs are designed to help people get on their feet and into job programs.

Through these programs, you're providing items that you know will go to good use and can help turn a life around. In this way, you are paying forward economic empowerment.

It's a powerful way to get rid of items you no longer use without throwing them away. Instead, they're being recycled.

It may seem small, but donating means far less landfill and electronic waste.

A few examples include:

There are also online directories to find nonprofits and ways to give back in your area.   

Try profit sharing.

Another way to give back is to share profits with an organization that is putting forward a social issue you feel passionate about. For example, the shoe company Tom's gives a portion of every shoe sale to charity. Also, Charity Cab in San Francisco shares a portion of each fare with a local nonprofit.

This type of profit sharing gives you the financial power to give back while sustaining your business. As a consumer, you can also opt to give back by choosing to shop from brands that you know contribute a portion of their profits to nonprofits you support.

To make sure your company is ready for profit sharing, start by knowing whether you have a steady cash fow to support donations. You may want to actually make donations at the end of a quarter or year. You'll also want to pick the right charity to support, as well as plan how to market the donation to your audience.

Connect people.

In business, a thoughtful way to give back is to connect people whom you think can help each other in business. It's similar to a matchmaking service for things like talent, funding, and skills.

You are helping both people you connect. One is grateful that it may mean a job while the other is thankful they had a referral that helps them achieve their business goals.

You'll need to spend considerable time networking, interacting online and offline, and actively listening to what others are seeking.  

Express your gratitude.

Locate those people who helped you, like an old teacher, and write a thank you note or visit them and let them know what an impact they had. 

Even to this day, I reach out and thank the high school English teacher who helped ignite my love for putting words to paper. He's mentioned how much it helps him to hear how he's inspired former students.

These are just a few of the ways you can pay it forward. All that positive energy may help change and inspire others to do the same.

Published on: Apr 16, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.