Why should entrepreneurs consider the social impact of their business?
We spoke to some of the entrepreneurs who were recognised in the UK’s first Social Entrepreneur Index (sponsored by UBS) and asked them to share their advice to encourage more entrepreneurs to consider the social impact of their business.
What would you say to encourage more entrepreneurs to consider the social impact of their businesses?
"Having a social purpose in your business is not a 'nice to have'. It is increasingly what all customers, investors, partners and the general public expect. More importantly, it is necessary for us all being able to live fulfilled and sustainable lives. As a society, we can’t afford to carry free-riding organisations that do not fulfil a valuable social purpose. We need to get to the point where organisations exist to create social value and take into consideration their financial sustainability rather than the other way around. The good news is that there are 1,000s of examples out there for how this can be done and no limits to the innovation and creativity that we can all bring to bear on this. In so doing we can all contribute to changing the narrative about how our economy works and in doing so, we can bring about an economy that works for all."
"The most successful businesses in the future will be successful because they leave a positive impact on our world. It is imperative that we all take responsibility to ensure that we contribute to improving the state of the world, our environment and the people within it. It's good for business but importantly, it is good for us all."
"We’re told as entrepreneurs that bigger is best, that we should concentrate on growth at all costs and that a key measure of success is our turnover and the numbers of staff that we employ. But that approach can lead to misery, burn out and poor mental health. The value of an enterprise isn’t just about finance, it’s about the quality of work, it's social drivers, the culture we create and whether we can make our life work through it and around it. If we get those things right then often profitability follows anyway."
"We are all people, as Sir Tom Hunter says "We have it they need it - lets share it" you can impact socially all the time, a chance and an opportunity is enough if you can give that to people, Time, is the most important you never get it back - encouragement these things are costly."
"Sustainability is not an "after-thought" or marketing activity; the economy exists within society which in turn exists in the physical, natural environment. Considering the social impact of your business will ensure the current and future success of your business, not to mention be a mode of differentiation from competitors."
"Build social impact right into the centre of the organisation, the more the business grows the more the impact grows. Social impact cannot be an after-thought, it has to be part and parcel of the business, at the very heart of the organisation."
"I think all entrepreneurs should consider the social impact of their businesses. When you can have a positive social impact by doing what you love, the sense of satisfaction is immense and this spurs you on even more. If all entrepreneurs share this outlook, the opportunity for more positive collaborations will naturally arise, all of which can have even greater social impact and lead to creating a much more encouraging future for us all."
"Putting social impact at the heart of your business will secure the business's future. A bold statement to make but the reality is people like to do good and help. Teams like to feel good and connected to a worthy project, so it is a win-win situation for the business and the community."
"Social impact should be a key element of any new business. It doesn't necessarily have to be the core element (although preferable), if it is built into a business plan then we're are on the right track. We have a tremendous opportunity to have a positive impact on the communities we work in, not just in the short term, but for years to come. I would also say that it is important to consider the need when designing the social impact elements of any business. It's important not to develop something that an entrepreneur is just interested in, they should be responding to the need of the community they will be working with."