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What’s Holding You Back? (Social Responsibility in Small Business)

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Written By Tanya Quinn

Take a free business assessment to determine your level of Social Responsibility.

If you refer to one of my earlier posts, What is Small Business Social Responsibility, I introduced the initial concept of small business social responsibility. In speaking with dozens of Small Business Owners, I’ve had quite a few discussions about what may hold them back from embracing social responsibility in small business (or keeping them from sharing what they are already doing).

But before talking about what’s holding you back, let’s discuss one core foundational concept of Social Responsibility in a little more detail…

It’s Ok to Make Money and Do Good

The very point… the initial intention… the core purpose of Social Responsibility is to encourage a business to make money and do good. They are NOT mutually exclusive. And yet, it’s a concept that people have debated and discussed since the term was coined in the mid-20th century.

It’s not a debate that I’m going to wade into because others have done it already. And it’s obvious where I stand – if I didn’t think that you can make money AND do good, Small Actions Greater Good, and this blog article wouldn’t exist. (If you want to read more about this ongoing debate, I’m including links to some of my favorite articles at the end of this blog.)

However, with Small Actions Greater Good, I take this concept one step further…

I want businesses to make money and do good, that also helps them make more money and ultimately do more good.

In other words, I want to help Small Business Owners connect their social responsibility efforts with direct BENEFITS to their business.

But before Small Business Owners can do this, they need to consider the following two questions (and the associated limiting beliefs) that could hold them back:

  1. Are you hesitant to start doing social good?
  2. Are you purposefully not sharing your social good efforts (which is necessary to benefit from your efforts)?

Are You Hesitant To Start Doing Social Good Due To Common Myths?

If the idea of doing social good through your Small Business is intriguing but you haven’t embraced Social Responsibility, you may think of one or more of the following:

  1. A business can’t be both profitable and do good (or you have to be a non-profit or social enterprise to do good)
  2. Social responsibility only applies to Corporations or Large Businesses.
  3. Social responsibility is too hard for Small Business Owners.
  4. Social responsibility is not worth it for Small Business Owners.
  5. Why bother? As a Small Business, my efforts will barely make a difference.

These are all limiting beliefs that will hold you back from contributing to the greater good AND benefiting your business.

Learn more in our free course “Dispelling the 5 Most Common Social Responsibility Myths“.

Are You Purposefully Not Sharing Your Efforts?

Perhaps you are already doing social good through your business, but you are INTENTIONALLY not benefiting from your efforts (most often by not sharing what you do).

Whenever I encounter a Small Business Owner with this mindset, it is almost because of the following two limiting beliefs:

  1. “I’m a for-profit business, not a non-profit business or social enterprise, so I don’t share my efforts.”
  2. “I’m doing social good because I WANT to, not to help my business.”
  3. “I don’t share my efforts because it feels like bragging.”

These shocked me at first. But the more I heard them, the more I started listening to the emotions behind the words and paying attention to the personality of the Small Business Owner saying them.

I’ve found time and time again that most Small Business Owners who are doing social good are naturally philanthropic. They simply are driven to help others. To contribute more. To pass it forward. Expecting nothing in return. They either don’t feel like they should or don’t feel like they need to communicate about their Social Responsibility efforts. And often, they don’t even realize how much they are doing.

Each of these limiting beliefs is addressed in one of the two free courses we offer, however, I’ll also address them below.

  • 5 Most Common Myths about Small Business Social Responsibility That Prevent Small Business Owners From Doing Social Good Through Their Business
  • 6 Common Mistakes That Prevent Small Business Owners From Doing Effective Social Good (or From Even Starting To Begin With)

1. “I’m a for-profit business, not a non-profit business or social enterprise, so I don’t share my efforts.”

Your type of business structure does not dictate when and how you can do social good. You do NOT need to be a Social Entrepreneur or a Non Profit to do good. You CAN be profit-driven FIRST, and purpose-driven second. With all the emphasis on purpose-driven companies lately, do not be ashamed to focus on profit first.

After all, you need to make a living. You are supporting your family. You are also supporting other families. You are contributing to our economy. And you are providing much-needed goods and services. All of those deserve to be praised. Making money is NOT a bad thing. Especially if you then use some of that money to help others.

However, focusing on profit FIRST does NOT preclude you from making a difference as well.

2. “I’m doing social good because I WANT to, not to help my business”

I have to admit that I NEVER expected this response when I started Small Actions Greater Good. And I hear it a lot. The first time it was said to me, I was struck silent for a few minutes while my brain could only think, UM WHAT!?!?!!?

But now I’m blunt with my response (which I say to clients directly also)… 

You’re doing good because you want to. That is GREAT. I love that you are philanthropic! I wish everyone thought like that. The world would be a far better place.

But, this is your BUSINESS that we are talking about here. If you want to be philanthropic just for the sake of being philanthropic, and your actions have NO connections to your business purpose at all, no problem, that is WONDERFUL! But why THE HECK are you doing it through your business? You can do that on your own time.

However, you are running a BUSINESS. With a clear purpose and direction. With products and services. With target clients. To make money to support yourself and your family. To travel and enjoy life. To be able to give MORE. Whatever your reason(s).

If your social good efforts can also benefit your business, why wouldn’t you share them??

Compare it to these scenarios… Would you hire an employee who had no ability to do the job that you need them to? Would you purchase products to sell in your store that are of no interest to your customers? No. You make decisions for your business that most benefit your business and allow you to grow. Why isn’t the social good you do the same?

And even more importantly, have you ever considered that you are doing yourself, your clients, and your employees a DISSERVICE by NOT sharing what you do?

3. “I don’t share my efforts because it feels like bragging.”

When was the last time that you looked at the definition of bragging?

image
If you were going to communicate about your Social Responsibility efforts, would you use “excessively proud or boastful talk”? Would you go on and on and on about it excessively? Would it sound like you thought you were better than someone else?

Very unlikely! (or at least I hope not)

Therefore, sharing your efforts is simply NOT bragging. It’s communicating about the good that you do. To inspire others. To be PROUD of what you do. There is NOTHING wrong with being proud IF you are considering the first definition below (since I’m having fun with the dictionary today).
image 1
Hopefully, that limiting belief was an easy one to let you.

It’s OK to Benefit from Social Responsibility

Hopefully, you are now reconsidering any limiting beliefs that were preventing you from starting or sharing your social good efforts.

Repeat after me…

Yes, it’s OK to benefit from Social Responsibility.

But how can you benefit?

Notice, this is NOT the same question as what are the POTENTIAL benefits which was already addressed in Chapter 4.

To benefit from your actions, you need to learn how to make your efforts EFFECTIVE. You can jump straight into learning our unique process, The Small Actions Framework, or read more in the next blog article – Doing Good Is Good Business (If You Do It Effectively).

About This Content

This article is part 6 of an 8-part series that introduces 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. 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. (This Article) 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

Learn More

If you want to read more about this ongoing debate about Social Responsibility, here are a few great articles I recommend:

There is even a complete book published by the Oxford University Press covering the debate (The Debate over Corporate Social Responsibility).

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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