Tag Archives: small business

How Can You Change The World Through Entrepreneurship?

Innovation Women Business Start UpSometimes projects appear like rabbits being pulled from a magician’s hat. You’re led to think there’s nothing in there and then hey presto, a cute ball of fluff gets dragged out by the ears.

Usually though, you plan like crazy, target your market and go hell for leather building a sales pipeline to regularly still miss out on the fun prizes that you really want. Hands up if you know what I mean? Good. Most of you.

Considerably less often such opportunities find you with a handful of carrots, an empty hutch, a yearning to breed bunnies, and all in your own backyard.

I can’t share too much quite yet, and my usual exuberance is again obviously overriding my (and others who will shout at me) sense of caution here, but I wanted to quickly reach out to those of you I’ve encountered over many years with a similar mindset.

Here’s the thing…
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Is Communication The Biggest Barrier?

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The two most used questions by smaller businesses whenever discussing CSR:

1. What’s in it for me?

and

2. What’s in it for me?

They may look like the same question but they’re not. What the SME owner / manager is probably trying to say is:

1. What’s in it for my business?

2. What’s in it for me as a real person emotionally connected to wider communities but I don’t have the confidence or knowledge to articulate that yet?

We need to understand the difference and why.

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CSR = Your Better (Small) Business

YBB logo

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out Vodafone’s ‘Your Better Business’ website, which describes itself as

“an open exchange of ideas and opinions that can help shape the future of business. It’s also a platform where the brightest business brains will contribute and share information on the latest best practice models, give expert business advice and talk about the role technology is playing. ”

Here’s a short extract and a link (below text or image top right) to an article I  wrote on real world CSR for small business…

“In an increasingly connected world, where political upheaval and environmental challenges are gathering pace, there’s pressure on business to adapt.

As a result, the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming more and more relevant – even critical – to the success of businesses of all sizes. The problem is, it’s commonly misunderstood, and its power underestimated. So dismiss it at your peril.

Definitely worth further investigation via the Your Better Business website and via Twitter at @betterexchange

Are You A Small Business Communications Expert?

 

Do you have experience in CSR, social enterprise, business advice, marketing, PR, human resources – or just about any other aspect of business operation?

Better CSR Advice for SMEsCan you offer any insight on small business CSR communications?

I’m off to Berlin next week to co-host a workshop on CSR communications at an invite only conference not-so-snappily called ‘Better CSR Advice for SMEs‘. 100 small business advisers from across the EU (only 3 from the whole UK was a surprise but I’m glad to have got one of Brussels funded Willy Wonka tickets) are preparing to gather to network, share and take away the latest practice back to their home towns.

We only have a hopeful a mere 45 minutes throughout a 24 hour event to explore what I consider to be the most important topic in the small business / CSR debate, and I’m hoping to take as much ammunition in with me as possible.

What are the key questions? What are the key answers?

 

  • How do we educate small businesses about the benefits of CSR?
  • Who should do it?
  • What are the best ways for SMEs to communicate to their boards, employees, suppliers, customers and local media?
  • What resources are available to help SMEs get their messages out?
  • What are the current communication trends to be exploited?
  • Which SMEs are already good a communicating?

 

Please head over to the blog post on the Coethica website to get the full story & submit your feedback and share this link with your networks.

 

I’ll report back after the event to share the workshop discussions.

 

 

A Bright Future for Small Business CSR

           

A new dawn approaches.

It is  six and a half years since an idea became a company and Coethica entered the world. The early road was shrouded in mist with never-ending alternate junctions and diversions. Coethica was a response to Corporate Social Responsibility being, well, very corporate. Too corporate and not enough entrepreneurial. With a useful address book, a few awards,  a stubbornness and a ‘plan’, we were setting off to make work a better place to live.

Like any entrepreneur will tell you each day is a test of priorities and Olympic plate-spinning challenges. In many cases days are filled with fire fighting the almost pitiful burden of red-tape and planning is a very reactive pastime. My particular journey had a bewildering array of none business related potholes for the first leg of the travels that kept the project in first gear. The second leg was dominated by our experiment with social media, which is pretty much public record, all great fun, full of reward and learning.

The third leg began only recently as the potholes and distractions cleared,  and for a while and an absent friend called space was an initially unrecognised surprise visitor. Wow – years had passed, including my son’s whole lifetime, and Coethica had grown like awakening from a dream with no time having ever passed. The ability to think creatively without a list of attention stealing demands soon became tolerable.

To be specific, and to garner your support, here is the current position…
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CSR for SMEs – A New Place To Share

Smaller businesses are the lifeblood of any vibrant economy. Small is not only beautiful, it’s essential.

Last week at Coethica we created a new CSR for SMEs LinkedIn group. The main reason for this was an overdue project to better facilitate discussion for a too often overlooked sector when considering responsible business. There was also an ulterior second reason.

Coethica recently lead an application by a consortium bid (with partners Liverpool Vision and Appreciating People) to a EU tender asking to address “Networking for better CSR advice to SMEs”. An engaged LinkedIn group was a perfect opportunity to begin crowd sourcing the widest possible understanding of the biggest challenges and opportunities for CSR in smaller businesses.

With nearly 100 members and over 60 high quality comments within a week the group is already looking like a valuable resource for anybody participating in the small business space.

Current hot discussions include:

The vision that created Coethica was to stimulate scalable CSR advantages across a huge potential audience for hopefully significant overall improvements in social and environmental impact. We hope that by working together with Liverpool Vision and leaders of Open Space Technology and World Cafe techniques, Appreciating People, and combining our individual strengths with the exciting upcoming Global Entrepreneurship Congress heading to Liverpool in March 2012 we get the chance to deliver something uniquely innovative.

Here’s a few previous SME posts to whet your appetite and stimulate your suggestions:

If you’re a European based CSR adviser to SMEs watch this space. We find out in December if we were successful and we’ll be looking to invite 100 advisers to Liverpool for a fantastic knowledge sharing event.

Regardless of EU application success, we hope that we can all use this group to further develop a deeper awareness, appreciation and active engagement throughout the millions of SMEs across the world.

Head over to the group (below) to check the latest discussions from a rapidly growing community of active leading practitioners and small business themselves.

Click here to join in the conversation in the CSR for SMEs LinkedIn Group

 

Small Business Voices: Is Fairness CSR?

This is the second in a series of posts about the great characters, interesting stories, inspiration and questions I’ve met over the years across the smaller business world.

Most small business owners are social entrepreneurs whether know it or like it. I’ve not found many business that don’t want to do more good, they (wrongly) just don’t think they can.

Some these posts are about true social entrepreneurs, some have an intriguing story to tell, some are very much profit focused business people wanting to do good either when then they’ve made the fortune or whilst on their way. All of them, for me, fall into a ‘better way to do business’ category, descriptions aren’t important, it’s the impact, the story or even the motivation that counts.The first few posts in this series are local to me, based in the North West of England but I’m sure we’ll begin to push further afield as we proceed – all suggestions warmly received. Besides, I like meeting real people and can offer my thoughts based on facts and the intuition you only get from physically meeting people over a period of time. For full disclosure DoshShop.com is a Coethica client (a non-client up next).

Following on from the first story of Peter King at Ethecol, today highlights Mark Rea of DoshShop.com and GreenRockGroup. Mark is maybe not an obvious candidate for inclusion in this series and looking at the DoshShop.com website, it isn’t an in your face CSR story, but it is 100% at the core of the way he and his family does business.

This story touches on the family business version of CSR / social enterprise, often overlooked in the virtuous business model discussion. The Green’s family commercial ambitions are bold yet eminently achievable without too much risk. Their values are those of a neighbourly commitment to plug social gaps where they can and provide best practice from a fairness perspective, in a non-too-best-practice market sector.

I’ll let Mark take over from here with his story… Continue reading