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Small Biz Heroes Wanted: 5 Ways to Use Your Work to Change the World

July 30, 2009
Be a Small Business Hero!

Be a Small Business Hero!

If you are like many of the folks I know, you own a microenterprise — “a business with 1 to 5 employees and less than $250,000 in annual revenue.” And you’d be in GOOD company (my business, Social Good Consulting, also falls in this category).

But being small doesn’t mean you’re powerless.  Today there are more than 24,000,000 microenterprises in the United States alone (from the US Census).  And those numbers mean approximately 87% of all businesses in the U.S. are in that category.

That’s a lot of people — who, when you add them all up — can effect real change from a grassroots level.

So while you may not have the kind of power that a multi-national corporation like Wal-Mart has, you can still run your business in a way that creates positive change in your community — and ultimately, the world.  What you do makes a difference not just to you and your company, but it also sets an example for others to follow.

Here are 5 Tips to get you started:

  1. Be Mission Focused. Everyone stands for something.  What do you stand for? What causes or change would you like to see happen in this world? What would get you out of bed in the morning regardless of whether or not someone had a paycheck waiting for you?  Start there.  Incorporate that into the mission of your business.
  2. Be Green. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “Waste not, want not.”  It’s a proverb that was coined before our country was even a twinkle in the Founding Fathers’ eyes.  So it’s not a new idea.  Reduce.  Reuse. Recycle. Find as many ways as you can to do all three.  There are loads of books out there written on just this topic alone, so I won’t try to repeat the how of it here.  But if you’d like some suggestions, I do have a Sustainable Management Practices Checklist you can download.
  3. Give Generously. Set aside a percentage of your net profits for local and global causes you believe in.  And think about adding some in-kind resources like pro-bono hours or goods and services.  Set parameters and guidelines for how you will give and then post those on your website so people will know how to ask you.
  4. Understand Your Place in the Chain. We are all linked together and effect each other in ways too numerous to count.  If you buy products (and we all do), where and how are they manufactured?  If you are re-selling these products, it’s even more crucial to understand the supply chain.  How do your vendors treat their employees?  How do they treat the environment?  Every dollar you spend is a vote for these practices. And ignorance is no longer an option.  Are you aware of the consequences of your choices?
  5. Collaborate. In the past, we were told to keep our business practices a secret.  After all, we wouldn’t want our competitors to find out our trade secrets…they’d put us out of business!  You don’t have to operate that way.  And in fact, you probably shouldn’t.  Why?  Because the world is changing.  Rapidly. And thanks to technology, we can now find more ways to work together and leverage our respective talents and strengths.  Strategic partnerships and collaborations are win-wins that can no longer be ignored.  Who can you join forces with?

And here’s a bonus tip:

  • Stay Positive. Don’t come from a place of fear and don’t use fear to get your customers to take action.  There’s already enough of that energy circulating.

I’m sure there are more ways to use your small biz power to change the world…what did I miss?  Let me know.

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