Innovative ways small businesses can translate social responsibility into commercial success

We all know the narrative; “rich hoarder sacrifices his morals to climb his way to wealth”. Think Scrooge McDuff. Or billionaire Bezos. But how necessary is it? As the Founder of We the Wild, a thriving plant care business, I set out to prove that social responsibility can actually be good for the heart, and the wallet.

I’ve spent years experimenting with ways to shift the dial when it comes to social responsibility in business. From eCommerce to electricians, the opportunity to improve your business, while changing the world around you, is abundant.

What is social responsibility?

I get it. It can all sound a bit…wafty, a bit intangible! But as B-Corporation defines, it’s a socially responsible business when it “balances purpose and profit”. It could be adopting a more sustainable operation strategy, reducing environmental impact or supporting social or cultural rights, to name a few. Basically it’s “doing good”.

Why does being socially responsible matter?

Did you know that small businesses contribute approximately 34 per cent of Australia’s industry added value? That’s a whole lot of power! Now imagine every one of us making even a small positive change and communicating it effectively to our customers and clients, in a way that bulky corporations cannot. Suddenly, small businesses are even more compelling for Australian consumers, who are already demanding more from businesses and brands.

Easier said than done, I hear you say!

A lot of us are hurting. A lot of us are just scraping by after the year that was. But from crisis comes opportunity. But building more loyal customers, dedicated employees, and greater revenue start with the completely free, completely easy and completely enjoyable task of defining your social mission… your ‘why’.

How do I define my social mission?

The most successful social mission solves a core customer tension, while “doing good”. For example, a plumbing company would find that diversifying the gender of its workforce broadens appeal to a wider range of customers. That’s a win-win situation. At We the Wild, I identified environmental activism as a shared value with our customers. We implemented tree planting initiatives and built a circular supply chain. That benefits our business by differentiating ourselves from the competition and improves the environment.

How do I execute this mission?

Just like other facets of your business, it’s best to build a step-by-step plan. Start with the simplest changes you can make tomorrow. It might be using more diverse imagery in your marketing (also diversifies your business’s appeal). It might be dedicating half a day a month to volunteer with your team (also great social content opportunity and a way to find new customers). Think about how you can start with a low-risk, low impact solution as fast as possible. You’ll be surprised about the hidden benefits.

How do I communicate my mission?

Articulate your social responsibility in one sentence only (tip: work with a copywriter on this). Once you’re happy with it, paste it wherever and whenever you can. We add our mission to create “products that are better for plants, people and the planet” to everything. It’s on our website, our flyers and our advertising. It’s the first thing job candidates read on their job description. And it’s the lead slide on our investor decks. Once you’re happy with it, communicate it far and wide.

From here, you can start implementing initiatives that will boost sales and customer loyalty. Read about these tactics in my next article.

Josh Armstrong, Founder and Director, We the Wild Plant Care