A socially-responsible business involves more than allocating a certain portion of the profit for a specific cause or expecting employees to volunteer for a non-profit organization after work. It’s a business that’s genuinely immersing itself into being the beacon of being socially conscious and responsible.
Starting out with a clean slate is preferred, as it allows you to scrutinize every aspect of the business to adhere to the “socially responsible standards.” In this article, we’ll discuss what you’d need to prepare for starting and running a genuine socially-responsible business.
Genuine and Caring People
The people are the key element in a socially-responsible business. It’s the people who are socially conscious, and it’s the people who run the business to ensure that all standards and good ethics are performed.
Vision, Mission, and Philosophy
Be clear on the vision, mission, and philosophy of the business. Spell them out in the business plan. Develop, publish, and print your business tenets for all to internalize.
Choice of Products (or Services)
The products or services to be offered must be socially conscious in most, if not all, aspects. For this, the founders would need to investigate in person on the origins of products and how they are processed from the very beginning. Also, find out the best practices for manufacturing the products.
Once you’ve found the products to sell, you’d need to source them from reliable and also socially-conscious wholesalers or manufacturers. It’d be better to source from one or a couple reliable and genuine wholesalers than many of unreliable ones. Take the time to source them, to ensure the products were manufactured based on the standards expected.
If you offer services, find independent contractors whose life and business philosophies are in alignment with yours. Get to know them in person and meet them several times. It’s always greater to work with like-minded individuals, especially when your business aims at being socially responsible.
Office or Storefront Location
If your business must have an office or a storefront, carefully review the street, neighboring properties, and overall location. Whenever possible, find a location where there are other socially-responsible businesses around, as it would provide you with a good amount of foot traffic.
Some business models result in higher carbon footprint or social cost. For instance, if the products must be shipped from far away, the transportation would result in high carbon footprint. Sourcing from local producers is ideal, but whenever it’s not possible, dropshipping or consignment model may be acceptable. Just make sure to carefully review each business model to find the one with less carbon footprint and social cost.
Running the Business
Strive to be a leader who serves and leads by example, because a good leader is the “soul” of an organization. Since the business’ mission is creating a better world within its limitations, servant leadership fits well.
Stay agile and lean by working together in a crowd, which may render strict job descriptions irrelevant. Prior to hiring employees, disclose to them that they would need to help in various departments as needed. To stay agile, remove any excess and duplications in processes and materials used.
Green Energy and Equipment
Use energy-efficient equipment and tools. Consider using solar energy for electricity, whenever possible. This way, the customers would see how committed you are to being socially responsible.
Non-violent communication was made popular by Mahatma Gandhi, one of the world’s peace icons. Today, creative corporations, like Cirque du Soleil in Las Vegas, uses positive communication style, which is non-violent in nature. Peaceful and positive communications bring out the best in people and the management.
(Green) Digital Marketing
Promote your business digitally, so paper isn’t required. Be conscious of promotion waste, which can pile up quite easily. Substitute direct marketing by mail with e-mail marketing, for instance, to save trees.
Save trees even more with a paperless office. With many SaaS applications that come with many functionalities, it’s possible to run a business completely paperless.
Contribution to Society
A socially-conscious company’s ultimate test is how much it contributes to society. It must provide a value that brings good to people, particularly those who need them the most.
Starting and managing a socially-conscious business requires a heightened awareness of leadership, team members, management style, processes, materials, technologies, and products. You’d need to make sure that the business brings positivity, hope, and overall wellness to society and the employees. After all, your envisioned goal is starting a genuine socially-conscious business, not merely creating a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) program that borders publicity.
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