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What is the Small Actions Framework? (A Unique Social Responsibility Approach for Small Businesses)

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Written By Tanya Quinn

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In a previous blog (What is Small Business Social Responsibility), I shared my thoughts on where Small Businesses fit into the overall picture for Social Responsibility. And why I felt that a new definition was needed for Small Business Social Responsibility.

As a quick recap, while doing research to create Small Actions Greater Good, the lack of tools and even a definition for Small Business Social Responsibility shocked me. So, I created my own:

Small Business Social Responsibility Definition: A commitment to contribute to the greater good by efficiently acting as or making changes to your small business that improves the world around you while also effectively contributing to your small business growth.

However, as I alluded to at the end of the blog, simply creating a definition is not enough. The new definition summarizes how I believe that social responsibility can be applied to Small Businesses. But a definition alone does not provide guidelines and tools for how to implement social responsibility. 

A new approach was also needed that made it easier, and more effective to do social good… The Small Actions Framework.

A Program is Not the Best Place to Start for Small Businesses

In my last blog, I state that “Small Business Owners don’t NEED to create large programs,” at least not to begin with and maybe never, depending on the business.

I used the term “Program” deliberately. A Program, as defined by the Project Management Institute, is a “group of related projects managed in a coordinated manner to obtain benefits not available from managing them individually.” Or in terms of social responsibility, that means creating one overall Program to embrace Social Responsibility with multiple individual projects that are developed and implemented in coordination with each other.

Creating an extensive program has definite advantages – especially when the benefits intertwine. Corporations and large businesses that are just embracing Social Responsibility can jump straight into creating a program as they have the resources and staff available to handle the effort. 

Sounds great, right? 

However, it’s unlikely that many Small Business Owners will decide to formally embrace Social Responsibility and then go from no or very little activity to creating a detailed Program with multiple Projects.

A Simpler Approach for Small Business Owners

So how can Small Business Owners implement Social Responsibility? And how can they do this while still managing every other aspect of their business?

To answer that question, I stepped back, considered how Small Businesses operate and created a unique signature approach to Small Business Social Responsibility – the Small Actions Framework (SAF).

The SAF is a three-step small business social responsibility approach for Small Businesses developed from existing and proven Corporate Social Responsibility strategies and guidelines but simplified for Small Businesses.

 It focuses on:

  1. Understanding how and why to take action.
  2. Learning how to make your actions effective.
  3. Starting, improving, replacing, or expanding your actions (i.e., making it easier to take MORE action).

The SAF is specifically designed to be:

  •  Flexible – It includes three levels of involvement (or actions) that allow Small Business Owners to determine how much they want to do depending on their Social Responsibility experience, interest level, and available resources.
  • Scalable – It is scalable to allow Small Business Owners to implement Social Responsibility at their own pace and as resources allow.
  • Customizable – It’s a framework for a reason – it provides structure, guidance, and tools but leaves plenty of room for Small Business Owners to customize the details. This ensures that the outcomes uniquely apply to their businesses.
  • Sustainable – It can be used as often as needed to update or add to a Small Business Owner’s efforts.

Step 1 – Understand How And Why to Take Action

Step 1 of the Small Actions Framework introduces three foundational concepts that are important to understand before any work begins.

Concept #1. How Can You Take Action (Categories of Actions)?

Before deciding how you want to do good, you need to understand how many different ways you can do good. And it’s often WAY more than you realize. To make it easier for Small Business Owners, I organized potential actions into four overall categories and 17 subcategories. The same organization is used consistently across the Small Actions Framework training and the resources available on the Small Actions Greater Good website.  

Concept 2. Why Take Action (also known as How Can Your Actions Benefit Your Business)?

Social Responsibility is not just about doing good. It’s about doing good that also contributes to your business’ growth. Unfortunately, this is often a component left out of consideration by many business owners. Sometimes intentionally! If you are someone who is hesitant to connect your social good to business benefits, please read the separate blog article “Social Responsibility in Small Business – What’s Holding You Back?“.

However, to ensure that your actions contribute to your business, you need a better understanding of potential benefits. You can learn more about these potential benefits from another blog post, “What Are the Potential Benefits of Social Responsibility?“.

Concept 3. How Much Effort Do You Want to Put Into Your Actions?

Every Small Business Owner will have a different amount of time and resources to dedicate to Social Responsibility. Their dedication may shift over time as well.

The Small Actions Framework defines four different levels of actions to accommodate different needs and provides guidance on how to implement Levels 2, 3, and 4. These levels are described in greater detail in a separate blog (What is Your Level of Social Responsibility?).

Step 2 – Learn How to Make Your Actions Effective

After learning the foundations for the Small Actions Framework, Step 2 focuses on the key factor that makes this Framework unique from other approaches. You’ll learn a formula for connecting your actions to your core business elements and ensuring your actions benefit your business as much as possible (i.e., making them EFFECTIVE).

The Framework is based on a core belief – as a Small Business Owner, you must be successful to do social good. The more successful your business, the more social good you can do. If your social good effectively benefits your business, then you can be more successful and therefore do more good. It’s an ongoing, mutually symbiotic relationship.

To learn more about what I mean by effective, you can also read another blog post “Doing Good is Good Business (IF You Do It Effectively)“.

Step 3 – Improve, Replace, or Expand Your Actions

Finally, in Step 3 of the Framework, you’ll learn strategies to start, improve, replace, or expand your social responsibility efforts while making them easier and more effective. This allows you to improve what you are already doing and do more when you are ready.

Do You Want to Learn More about this Small Business Social Responsibility Approach?

If you are interested in learning more about the Small Actions Framework, you can take an online course, hire me as a speaker for your group or organization, or hire me as a coach to directly help with your Small Business. Learn more here.

About This Content

This article is part 2 of an 8-part series that introduce foundational concepts about Small Business Social Responsibility, Small Actions Greater Good, and the Small Actions Framework. Links to these articles are provided below.

  1. What is Small Business Social Responsibility?
  2. (This Article) What is the Small Actions Framework? (A Unique Social Responsibility Approach for Small Businesses)
  3. How Can You Do Good as a Small Business? (Categories of Social Responsibility)
  4. Why Should Businesses Be Socially Responsible? (Or More Specifically Small Businesses)
  5. What Are the Potential Benefits of Social Responsibility?
  6. What’s Holding You Back? (Social Responsibility in Small Business)
  7. Doing Good is Good Business (IF You Do It Effectively)
  8. Levels of Social Responsibility (How Socially Responsible is Your Small Business?)

As an alternative to reading each of the blogs separately, you sign up for a free 8-part email series, An Introduction to Social Responsibility for Small Business Owners, which includes most of the content from these 8 blogs.

Sign Up for the Email Series

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Tanya Quinn, Founder of Small Actions Greater Good

About Small Actions Greater Good

Small Actions Greater Good provides education, resources, and training to make it easier for Small Businesses Owners to do more effective social good that benefits their business, makes them proud of their efforts, and inspires others (also known as Small Business Social Responsibility).

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Founder of Small Actions Greater Good

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