How To Be A Mission-Driven Small Business Leader

Customers expect companies to show that they care about their communities. Learn how your small business can get involved in giving.


According to a 2017 study by Cone Communications, 7 in 10 Americans think companies have the obligation to take actions to improve issues that may not be relevant or related to their everyday business. They are expected to help solve social problems.

As a business owner or executive, you can help—because the skills and passion you and your team possess, which enable you to make your business successful, are often the same ones required to solve our most challenging social issues. And you don’t have to wait until you’re well established or profitable to incorporate social impact into your business mission. Start now and watch your business grow as a result.

Heart-centered, mission-driven business leaders naturally infuse their companies with purpose. In fact, it’s at the core of everything they do. It flows from the company’s vision and mission and manifests itself in their culture, the way they treat employees, the customer experience, their interactions with suppliers, and the stand they take on societal issues.

But let me be clear—purpose isn’t a marketing ploy—and it goes beyond just incorporating it into your mission statement. It should be infused into your brand’s essence.

When done right it, becomes a core component of your business model and a key competitive advantage. Purpose allows you to grow your business and positively impact the world—all at the same time.

So, how do you get started?

    1. Be intentional and strategic.

    Employees and customers want to know your efforts are authentic and not just window dressing. Spend some time thinking about and planning where and how you want to share your resources and commit to providing support for the long-term. Being consistently engaged with a cause will increase the likelihood of making a meaningful impact.

    2. Choose your cause.

    If you’re a solopreneur or have just a couple of employees, the easiest way to choose a cause is to go with what you are passionate about. Even better, you can select a cause based on the interests of your team members. Ask them what they care about and choose an issue that resonates with many of them. You can also choose an issue you believe would be important to your customer base—perhaps something that is top of mind. Finally, you can select a cause that aligns with the business you’re in. For example, if you own a technology company, you might support initiatives to get more kids involved in STEM through after-school programs.

    3. Identify the organization.

    Once you decide what cause or issue you want to support through your business, you’ll then go through the process of identifying the best organization(s) to align yourself with. Selecting a local organization makes it easier to engage your employees in the effort, but you can always lend support at the national and international level as well through donations. Your due diligence is critical here because you want to be sure to align your business with a reputable organization doing high quality work. These are the standards you hold yourself and your team to and they should be the same for your social impact.

    4. Promote with purpose.

    This is the step that sometimes holds leaders back—telling their story. They’re afraid that if they share their “why” people will think it’s self-promotion. But that’s not it at all. In fact, people want to hear it. They want to get to know who you are and what matters to you. They want to know you’re authentic, compassionate, and have passions that go beyond the boundaries of your business. They want to do business with a person—not a company. And they want to purchase products and services where their money is making a difference.

    Your team members want to know this, too. It helps them feel connected and involved with the cause you support and fosters a sense of pride and fulfillment in their work. It also increases your success in attracting, engaging, and retaining talent.

    Finally, you want to share the story of the cause you support and the organizations addressing it effectively because this multiplies your impact. This is not about you. This is about the cause that is near and dear to your heart. A cause that is causing pain to people or the planet and a cause that needs attention. And you have the platform to do something about it. In fact, if you never gave a dime or volunteered your time—you can still have a significant impact just by using your voice to spotlight the issue.

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Featured Photo: Fruit Trees For Uganda by Fruit Tree Planting Foundation.

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