How SMEs can make a positive social impact

socially responsible, csr, social responsibility, giving, social impact

Did you start your business for love or money? 

If your answer is ‘both’, then you’re not alone. 

The vast majority of entrepreneurs and small-business founders are driven to start their businesses out of a need to make a living, a desire to have the freedom to innovate, and a love for their idea, whether it’s a product solving a specific problem or an opportunity to put skills, experience and knowledge into action on their own terms. 

But running a successful small business isn’t just about turning a profit. I believe small businesses are ideally placed to create profit and boost the economy, while also contributing to social impact and building a better world. It doesn’t have to be one without the other. Having a purpose in our work is what drives employee engagement and retention, and is increasingly sought out by clients and customers. 

So how can you do both at the same time? 

Find your purpose 

Any business can have a purpose and a social impact. Think about what you’re already doing, and how it could be tweaked to have a more positive impact. Perhaps you can contribute to charities that are aligned with your community and values, or you can look at ways to be more ethical in your service delivery. 

If you’re a service business that prides itself on working with ethical clients or providing pro bono services to a charity, then this is part of your purpose. Or if you can see a change that needs to be made in your industry for the greater good, how could you campaign for this change or raise awareness of the need? You have a voice, how can you use it? 

Choose your partners 

The businesses you choose to partner with and the suppliers you source from, can be part of your social impact plan. Think about your current partners and suppliers, are they businesses making a positive impact in some way? Or could you look at sourcing new suppliers that are making a difference in the community, to the environment, or to the fabric of society as a whole?

For example, you could check out Supply Nation to find First Nations businesses you could source from, or look at social enterprises that employ people with disabilities or social disadvantages to provide services. 

Empower your people 

Ask your people to contribute their ideas. Perhaps there’s a cause close to their hearts they’d love to support, or they might have ideas about how your business could start contributing to the greater good. 

Look at how you can educate and empower your people, and consider inclusive hiring practices where you’re opening your doors to the kinds of people who might not usually be considered. Our society is only as good as its people, and education is at the heart of building a more inclusive and progressive country.

Talk about it 

As you make positive changes, share your news and ideas with your community. Running a profitable business means you’re in a position to contribute and invest back into society, and by talking about it, you encourage other businesses to do the same. Your customers, clients and community will be interested to hear about your positive impact, and this kind of news cements your business in their minds as a positive, purposeful place for them to spend their hard-earned dollars. 

For example, we’ve created a platform bringing people and service providers together, such as lawyers, counsellors and accountants, so that it’s easier for people to navigate the family law system. It’s a profitable business model, driven by a purpose to help people cope in life’s most stressful and significant moments, and we’re excited to tell people about it, and hopefully inspire others to think creatively about how they can contribute.

What could your business do?