Growing up the daughter of a family of small-business owners, I know first-hand the hard work and effort that goes into running a successful small business. What’s even harder is running a successful small business that makes a truly positive impact on the environment and the community in which you operate. But you don’t need to be donating thousands of dollars to charities to run an ethical small business!
I firmly believe that at the heart of any good business is good humans. Ensuring your small business is built and led on strong values that do good for humanity will see you rewarded with success.
I’ve put together my top four tips for improving your small business’ impact on the world:
1. Treat your customers well
It’s important to make sure everyone who is exposed to your business at any touchpoint feels included and valued. Consider the messaging and language you use in your marketing efforts. How might they feel when being spoken to? Is it inclusive?
Be empathetic when connecting with them one on one, listen to their individual stories, and work to provide each individual with solutions. Being human, or kind, when speaking to your customers will only lend itself to customer loyalty, and it’s these customers who will become your most valuable advocates.
2. Truly value your employees
If you want to make a positive impact on society, you need people who have the passion and know-how to execute this positive impact. But you need to make it worth their while. Fair wages and inclusivity are crucial to encouraging your staff to do their best work, but it goes beyond this.
What environment do your employees work in? Do they feel supported at work? Do they feel that their physical and mental health and wellbeing is valued? Do they have ample opportunity to grow and develop within the business? Do you understand their “why”? The more valued and supported your team feels, the more loyal they will be to the business’s goals and objectives.
3. Consider your supply chain
Now more than ever, consumers want to engage with brands that operate under more sustainable and environmentally-conscious practices. If you sell goods, consider where they come from and impact their production has on society and the environment. If you run a service-based business, is your office space, and the contents therein, ethical and not harmful to the environment? There are a myriad of apps that can alert you of products and companies who are cruelty-free, environmentally sustainable, and engage in fair work practices.
Price won’t be an issue if you’re doing right by the world and people love what you’re doing, enabling you to invest in ethical practices.
4. Be transparent
Communication is, and always will be, key. Being clear and transparent about your business model and the change you’re trying to make in the community will only encourage your customers and employees alike.
Regardless of the size of your business, by doing good you are creating a safer, happier, healthier, sustainable, community – or social return – which will also create financial returns. And you can’t often put a price or a cost on those social returns.
Julie Trell, Judge, 2019 Telstra Business Awards and Global Head, muru-D