Being socially responsible
There are over one million small businesses in Canada with many thousands of new ones starting up every year. Canada’s small business business financing ecosystem is better than in many parts of the world, including the United States. It is often easy to overlook social responsibility when concentrating on growing your business. Here are some things you may want to consider integrating into your corporate DNA at an early stage.
Your business can gain a tremendous advantage by being upfront, clear and honest in your marketing strategies and your dealings with customers. Follow through on commitments and go above-and-beyond in your communications and service. Remember that word of mouth advertising is great but it can also work against you. If clients perceive your company as being dishonest, that word will spread as well and will certainly diminish anything good that is being said about you. It is also important to be truthful to your employees to keep morale high and reduce staff turnover. Like the old saying goes, honesty is the best policy.
Promote environmental standards
Go look behind any small business and you will often see a dumpster full of office waste, including electronics, paper, ink cartridges, batteries and other office equipment. Much of this can be recycled. Ensure that you have blue bins (and green bins for food waste) easily accessible and that your employees know that they should be using them. Ask your staff for volunteers to ensure the recycling is taken out on a consistent basis or then hire a cleaning company to manage it for you. Replace any old light bulbs with energy saving bulbs, such as CFL or LED. Turning off lights and workstation computers when not in use is also an excellent way to conserve energy. Learning to conserve energy around the office is not only good for the environment but will save you money in the long run.
Hire the unemployed
Many times when hiring new staff we only consider people that are already employed and looking to move ahead or make changes in their career. With so many people out of work and seeking employment, consider taking on someone that maybe only has a portion of the desired skills but can be trained on-the-job. If there are constant tasks around the office that do not require any particular skills and are a nuisance for your full-time employees to do, such as recycling, unpacking or sorting duties, consider paying someone in need to come in once a week to handle such tasks.
Donate to local causes
While you may not have the extra funds to donate to major global causes, there is always the option to provide support at the lower levels by using a micro-lending system like kiva.org. You could seek out local shelters or community programs and give incentives for staff to volunteer their time. Be an example by volunteering at these places yourself first. Many non-profit organizations run local charity events or fundraisers which you could support or sponsor as well.
You may not have thought about creating a corporate social policy for your business but hopefully will now think about what ideals you want to uphold and perhaps start planning accordingly. Being socially responsible will show others that you are a leader, capable of taking care of more than just your bottom line. Begin building relationships with your clients based on trust, instil positive feelings in your staff regarding your company’s ethics and ensure a solid foundation for future business growth.