Professional skateboarder, Tom Hawk and Napster co-founder and founding president of Facebook Sean Parker are among the wealthy entrepreneurs who have created charitable foundations. While not quite matching the Gates Foundation, which to date has given away over $37 billion this is a new norm for millionaires and billionaires that is trickling down to entrepreneurs who want to make an impact on the world.
For-profit businesses are taking a position on local or global issues but how does this equate for the small to medium business? Entrepreneurs who may not be able to invest a portion of their income?
It is never too late to develop a relevant and authentic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program. For a start-up including social responsibility in your business plan, allows it to be part of your company culture from the get-go; enabling staff and customers to recognise what is important to you.
You need to decide what form this advocacy will take within your business; volunteerism, donation of cash or items, increasing awareness through your marketing, website or social media. For some companies, it also comes down to how they position themselves in the business world. They want to be aligned with companies who represent the same values when it comes to the environment, human rights, supply-chain sustainability and workplace conditions. ‘European companies have really led the way on environment efforts, such as green energy usage, eco-friendly office and travel policies’.
When it originates from a place of authenticity social responsibility proves to be very positive. From solo entrepreneur to corporation the competitive advantages are multiple.
- Your consumer, especially the millennials want to see more from the companies they do business with than merely the product or service.
- Marketing takes on new dimensions especially with social media as you share events, resources and information about your cause of choice.
- Entrepreneurship is challenging but when your business plan includes this added component there is motivation to move forward perhaps giving you that passion or drive you might not otherwise be feeling on a given day.
Contrary to everything I have written it has taken me awhile to decide what I wanted to align my consulting company and magazine with. It was the opposite of apathy as I feel strongly about many issues. With time I have come to realise what worried me the most is climate change. Might as well go for a really big issue! Next, to plan how my advocacy is going to take shape as the recycling bins in my office kitchen alone are not going to save the planet.
Jill Crossland is a business and marketing consultant who can take your business and social media to the next level.