Do you want to do more good through your business (i.e. be socially responsible)? Or do you feel like you SHOULD do more good? Personally I hate “shoulds”, don’t you? But seriously, why should businesses be socially responsible?

The answer won’t be found in a study or report anywhere. It will be found inside you! Before making any decisions as a business owner, it’s important to stop and consider WHY you are making a decision. Do you understand your own personal motivations?

Most Small Business Owners embrace Social Responsibility because they are internally motivated (by their own desires, fears, or needs) or they are externally motivated (as a result of consumer or employee expectations). Where do you fit in? And why is this even important to know?

Aren’t We Busy Enough?

As Small Business Owners, we have a LOT to do. Recent studies from Fundera and SCORE (links at the end of the blog) show that most Small Business Owners work more hours for their business than if they worked for someone else.  Which didn’t surprise me as a Small Business Owner. And, I doubt that you need a study to tell you that either.

But, there are some interesting statistics from these studies if you dig deeper. Even when Small Business Owners are working more hours, and sometimes making less money,

  • 92% do not regret starting their business; and
  • 70% enjoy running their business more than anything else they have done.

Why do I think this is the case?

Because most Small Business Owners are extremely passionate about their business. We put our hearts and souls into what we do and the extra hours are worth it. In my case for sure, those extra hours of “work” don’t even feel like work.

A recent study by Guidant Financial (link at the end of the blog) supports my theory. They found that 23% of Small Business Owners started their business primarily to fulfill a passion.

An yet… with how busy we are, I still believe that Small Business Owners can become more Socially Responsible.

Definition of Small Business Social Responsibility (SBSR): A commitment to contribute to the greater good by taking educated, informed, and impactful small actions and implementing mindful business practices that improve the world around you while also contributing to your small business growth and profitability. (Source – Tanya Quinn, Small Actions Greater Good)


Two Overall Reasons to Become a Socially Good Business

But why? Why take on more work than we already do? Why “should” businesses be socially responsible?

No matter how many studies or articles you read or how many times I talk to clients and other Small Business Owners, the answers can be grouped into TWO overall reasons:

Internal Motivations  = A Small Business Owner is naturally motivated and WANTS to do more or he/she is concerned with the world around them and NEEDS to do more. Their “should” comes from within. 

External Expectations = A Small Business Owner is paying attention to business trends and research showing how consumers AND the employees are EXPECTING and DEMANDING more.  Their “should” comes from the marketplace.

Although, if I am being honest here. I hate the word “should”. It feels like I’m being scolded or chastised. I “should” do this… I “should” do that (not things that I am already doing). I would rather switch to focusing on WHY Social Responsibility is Important.


Why Is Social Responsibility Important To You?

As the Small Business Owner, the ultimate decision to embrace Social Responsibility comes down to what YOU consider important and whether you have the time or resources to commit to becoming a socially responsible business.

It’s either important to you, i.e. fulfills your internal motivations, or you believe that it’s important to the success of your business because of the marketplace, i.e. meets external expectations, then Social Responsibility is something that you can CHOOSE to do. Not something that you “should” do.


Fulfills Internal Motivations – How Can I Make a Difference?

Many business owners, myself included, have a natural internal motivation for Social Responsibility or a desire to make a difference. They naturally ask “How Can I Make a Difference in the World Around Me?”. Most Social Entrepreneurs fall into this category.

The source of that motivation may be a positive driver such as a Business Owner with a philanthropic personality who WANTS to contribute more. Or, the source could be a negative driver such as a Business Owner who is afraid of the changes happening in the world and feels a strong NEED to fight back. And in many cases, a Business Owner may feel both.

No matter whether Business Owners are driven from a positive or negative motivation, incorporating socially responsible actions into their Small Business is a way to meet these personal needs through their business instead of giving up often limited personal and/or family time.

Common positive motivations include:

  • Doing good simply feels good or makes me happy.
  • I believe in putting positive energy out into the universe (and receiving it in return).
  • I want to be a role-model or set a positive example for my family or community.
  • I need to create a better world for my children and grandchildren.
  • I hope to be an inspiration to other Business Owners.

Common negative motivations include:

  • I want to feel less guilty about the amount of time/energy I put into my business (that keeps me away from my family).
  • I’m scared of what we are doing to the Earth and need to help make changes.
  • I’m doing too much outside of my business (I can switch to making a difference through the business).


Meets External Expectations – What Are My Stakeholders Expectations?

“Stakeholders” are people with interest, expectations, or concern in the activities of a business. For most Small Businesses the primary stakeholders are the business owner(s), the customers/clients, the employees, the suppliers if applicable, and sometimes the community as a whole.

As shown by multiple studies in the last few years, Social Responsibility is no longer expected by large corporations only. Consumers and employees are expecting that ALL businesses contribute more.

What you do impacts HOW consumers see you, WHAT they talk about, WHETHER they return to shop with you and more. Employees are now CHOOSING to interview for or leave a company based on the actions of that business. 

Just a few of the best statistics to support this are provided below (links to the full reports are at the bottom of this blog):

    • 63% of Americans are “hopeful businesses will take the lead to drive social and environmental change going forward”. This jumps to 71% for Millennials only. (Cone Communications, 2017 CSR Study)
    • 70% of Americans “believe companies have an obligation to take actions to improve issues that may not be relevant to everyday business operations”. (Cone Communications, 2017 CSR Study)
    • 73% of consumers “would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment”. (Nielson Global Sustainable Shoppers Report, 2018)
    • “64% of Millennials consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work”. (Cone Communications, 2016 Millennial Employee Engagement Study). Note, Millennials are estimated to be 50% of the workforce by 2020. 


Why is this important to understand?

If you aren’t personally motivated to make a change to your business, you won’t make it a priority. You won’t put the time and energy into completing it. Understanding your personal motivations provides the drive and the passion to complete your efforts. It’s as simple as that.

Do the reasons above cover your interest in Social Responsibility? Leave a comment below, on Instagram, or in my Facebook group and let me know if you are driven by internal motivations and/or external expectations. Is there another reason that I haven’t included?

Still not sure if you want to embrace Social Responsibility? Stay tuned for my next blog to learn more about how Social Responsibility can also benefit other aspects of your Small Business.

Social responsibility inspiration, resources and strategic support for Small Business Owners who want to improve the world around them while also contributing to their business growth and profitability

Studies Referenced:


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