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.
As a reminder, my definition of Social Responsibility is:
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.
Most Small Business Owners I meet want to do good. However, many haven't started or aren't doing as much as they want. And almost without exception, this is due to limiting beliefs that are preventing them from taking action. These beliefs are holding them back.
How do I know this? Experience. I've talked to dozens of Small Business Owners and heard the same things. And what's holding you back most likely falls into one or more of the following 3 categories:
- You have a fundamental belief that it is NOT ok or possible to make money and do good.
- You are hesitant to start doing good or do more good because of 5 myths.
- You are purposefully not sharing your efforts because of 3 excuses.
Before you can move forward, you need to address each of these.
Starting with the first major one…
You Don't Think It's Ok to Make Money and Do Good
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 social responsibility started in the mid-20th century.
It's not a debate I will 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 wouldn't exist.
But you may need more convincing. If you want to read more about this ongoing debate, I include links to some of my favorite articles at the end of this email.
If you STILL don't accept the core premise of social responsibility, that it IS OK to make money and do good, then you may have money mindsets to evaluate.
I'm not the person to help you with that. But you can find a lot of resources and coaches online who can help. If this is you, stop reading these emails and focus on that instead. Trust me; I won't take any offense. I don't believe that every business is right for every person! And I may not be right for you. Or, you can always come back after you have tackled your mindsets.
But if you DO accept that you can make money AND do good, keep reading.
You Believe Common Myths
Are you interested in starting or doing social good, BUT you hesitate because you believe one of the following?
- Social responsibility only applies to Corporations or Large Businesses. After all, it's usually referred to as Corporate Social Responsibility.
- Social Responsibility is not worth it for Small Business Owners.
- Social Responsibility doesn't apply to MY Small Business.
- Social Responsibility is too hard for Small Business Owners.
- Why bother? As a Small Business, my efforts will barely make a difference.
These myths will keep you from contributing to the greater good AND benefiting your business.
If you said yes to any of the above, I recommend watching a free training course, Breaking the Common Social Responsibility Myths. Sign up here.
You Are Purposefully Not Sharing Your Efforts
Perhaps you are already doing social good through your business, but you are INTENTIONALLY not sharing what you do (with your customers, employees, and community).
I don't mean you intend to communicate, but you don't have time. I mean that you wouldn't communicate about what you are doing even if you had time.
Whenever I encounter a Small Business Owner with this mindset, they typically give one of the following three reasons:
- “I'm doing social good because I WANT to, not to help my business.”
- “I don't share my efforts because it feels like bragging.”
- “Why bother? It doesn't matter to anyone else.”
These shocked me at first. But the more I heard these statements, the more I listened to the emotions behind the words and paid 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 are driven to help others, to contribute more, to pay it forward, and to expect nothing in return.
But these are still limiting beliefs, no matter if they have good intentions behind them, and need to be addressed.
1. “I'm doing social good because I WANT to, not to help my business, so I don't share my efforts.”
I have to admit that I NEVER expected this response when I started Small Actions Greater Good. The first time it was said to me, I was struck silent for a few minutes while my brain could only think, “UM WHAT!?!?!!?” If this is you, listen carefully to the following.
First, I love that you're doing good because you want to. Second, I love that you are naturally philanthropic! I wish everyone thought that way. 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 you aren't going to share your efforts, why THE HECK are you doing it through your business? You can do that on your own time.
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 could not fill the role you need? No.
- 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. So why approach social responsibility any differently?
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?
2. “I don't share my efforts because it feels like bragging.”
When was the last time that you looked at the definition of bragging?
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).
Hopefully, it was easy to let go of that limiting belief.
3. Why Bother? It doesn't matter to anyone.
Simply put. It DOES. It matters. Customers and employees expect all businesses to be socially responsible, including small businesses. And they make buying and employment decisions based on it.
So trust me; it DOES matter to others.
To learn more about customer and employees expectations, read another blog post, What are the Benefits of Social Responsibility.
What You Hopefully Believe Now
Hopefully, you are now reconsidering any limiting beliefs preventing you from starting or sharing your social good efforts.
But let's just be sure. Repeat after me.
It's OK to benefit from social responsibility.
It's good to communicate about what you do.
But HOW can you benefit?
Notice, this is NOT the same question I already answered, “What are the potential benefits of social responsibility?”
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.
- What is Small Business Social Responsibility?
- What is the Small Actions Framework? (A Unique Social Responsibility Approach for Small Businesses)
- How Can You Do Good as a Small Business? (Categories of Social Responsibility)
- Why Should Businesses Be Socially Responsible? (Or More Specifically Small Businesses)
- What Are the Potential Benefits of Social Responsibility?
- (This Article) What’s Holding You Back? (Social Responsibility in Small Business)
- Doing Good is Good Business (IF You Do It Effectively)
- 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.
If you want to read more about this ongoing debate about Social Responsibility, here are a few great articles I recommend:
- It's Possible to Make Money and Do Good (published by Entrepreneur.com)
- People Think Companies Can’t Do Good and Make Money. Can Companies Prove Them Wrong? (published by Harvard Business Review)
There is even a complete book published by the Oxford University Press covering the debate (The Debate over Corporate Social Responsibility).