Got an awesome product or service to sell? That’s great – but it may not be enough to attract customers. These days, it is important for many people to support businesses that are socially conscious and eco-friendly. In fact, research shows that consumers are often willing to pay extra for what they want if it comes from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental change.

Can a small business find a way to address these issues without incurring big expenses? Yes.

 Giving back

Being connected to your community is always a good business strategy, and finding local causes or charities to support only adds to your company’s appeal. Start by asking your staff what issues are important to them. Listening to what your employees are genuinely interested in will increase their overall level of participation in whatever you choose to pursue. “Giving back” can be defined in many ways; here are few ideas:

  • Have your whole staff participate in a 5K walk or run that benefits a local charity.
  • Volunteer as a team for community development programs like Habitat for Humanity.
  • Sponsor a little league sports team.
  • Host a toy, clothing or food drive.
  • Donate a percentage of sales to a worthy cause.
  • Adopt a highway or other green space to keep clear of litter.
  • Become a corporate sponsor for a youth organization like the Boys & Girls Club or Big  Brothers/Big Sisters.
  • Hire employees with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
  • Allow employees paid time off to volunteer with an organization that is meaningful to them.

It is also important to note that you are being socially responsible by creating jobs in your area, providing a good wage for your workers, and offering training and opportunities for staff to advance. These actions support individuals, families and communities – our social foundation.

Getting green

While some eco-friendly practices may be cost prohibitive to smaller organizations, there are plenty of ways to reduce your company’s carbon footprint that can have a positive impact on the environment.

  • Make recycling at your office easy to do by providing the right containers in high traffic areas.
  • Analyze your building’s energy consumption and see where reductions can be made.
  • Use recycled materials and go paperless when possible.
  • Promote carpooling among employees.
  • Recycle or donate old computers, monitors, tablets and smartphones instead of throwing them out.
  • Hire a contractor who specializes in green building practices if you are renovating or building a new space.
  • Use products and services from other companies that incorporate eco-friendly policies, especially local ones which will help reduce carbon footprint by minimizing the distance it takes to ship materials.

Be sure to include the ways your company is striving to be more socially conscious and environmentally aware on your website. Not only will this information be appealing to customers and clients, in a larger and more important sense, you are doing your part to make the world a better place. In turn, you may find that your employees are happier working somewhere that has a higher sense of purpose beyond making a buck – and you may attract new talent who want to align with your mission.

Susan Bryant is a writer and editor who enjoys working on diverse subject matter and collaborating on interesting projects. She can be contacted at susanbryant7@gmail.com.

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