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Mimi Mudd
May 2, 2019

The What, Why, and How of Social Responsibility for Solopreneurs and Small Business Owners

What is Social Responsibility?

Social responsibility is the obligation of an organization’s management towards the welfare and interests of the society in which it operates.    – Business Dictionary

The definition above works best for businesses in which the owner has a degree of separation from its customers. Consider these two facts:

  • Under Armour founder Kevin Plank donates millions to Maryland Universities.
  • Lego dedicates a portion of its profits to fight climate change.

Which of those facts do you think matters more to customers? Do you an athlete in Florida would buy Under Armor to support the University of Maryland? Will environmentally-conscious parents be influenced to buy legos? The bigger the business, the less consumers care about its decision-makers and their personal social cause.
In contrast, consumers tend to feel differently about the actions of their neighbors. When small business owners and solopreneurs give back to the local community it is often very personal. Local giving has an entirely different look and feel than the impersonal obligations of corporate social responsibility.
With small businesses and especially with solopreneurs, the owner’s unique passion directs how their brand will impact society. For example, Nicole Gamboa, who spoke about social responsibility at the PWNCR meeting on April 6, is incredibly passionate about animal rescue. Once Nicole achieved success through her logistics company, StarBoxCR, she was able to make a significant social impact in the community. Her lifelong love of animals evolved into a near-full-time dedication to providing care for injured, abandoned, and mistreated animals.
However, working social responsibility into your business is far more than just a way to support the causes closest to your heart. Local giving can help small business owners attract clients, align with customers’ core beliefs, and ultimately retain client loyalty for many years.

Get A Free Action Checklist to Incorporate Social Responsibility in Your Business

Why is Social Responsibility Important for Small Business?

By linking the cause they support to their products or services, small businesses invite their customers to connect on a deeper level. Customers who relate to the owner’s passions will take pride in their buying decision. They’ll also be more likely to recommend the product or service to friends and family. This is huge because, in 2019, word of mouth is still the most effective form of marketing.
Online shoppers in Costa Rica might not see much of a difference between StarBoxCR and all the other shipping options. However, when they find out StarBoxCR supports Asociación Animalitos Abandonados, Nicole Gamboa’s animal rescue project), her company stands out from the crowd. Prospective customers see how the money they spend on shipping; money they were going to spend anyway, can support a worthy cause.
How effective is promoting the cause you support through your business? According to the Digital Marketing Institute, 92 percent of consumers have a more positive image of companies that support social issues and environmental efforts.

How can I Incorporate Social Responsibility in My Business?

The first step is to align your brand with a worthy cause. For Nicole Gamboa, there was never a question as to what cause her business would support. Not every small business owner has a lifelong passion like Nicole. Social responsibility for small business can take many forms:

  • Charitable giving
  • Volunteering in the community
  • Environmental action
  • Providing education or resources

Find a cause that really lights your spark and motivates you to take action. Do your products or services relate to a local environmental challenge? Is there an outstanding need in your community that is not being met?  My friend and fellow PWNCR member Sarah Joy Staude found a ay to fulfill a need that is very dear to her heart. She runs the boutique travel agency Boyero Tours with her husband, Julio Barrantes. They specialize in educational tours to rural and indigenous communities in Costa Rica. Every Christmas, Sarah Joy and Julio run a toy drive to provide a present for each of the children in one of the rural communities they work with. It’s a community with very limited resources where the gifts make a big impact in the childrens’ lives.

Get A Free Action Checklist to Incorporate Social Responsibility in Your Business

Once you’ve found a cause that aligns with your bran or fulfills an unmet need in your community, the next step is integrating your socially responsible actions into your business. Follow the link above and sign up for the PWNCR newsletter to receive a free action checklist. It’s filled with great inspiration about how social responsibility can benefit your business along with specific actions you can take to raise awareness among your current and future customers.

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