When you’re creating a business from scratch, especially during the ideation phase, things you'll think about will include the product you’re making, the services you’re offering, the cost for rendering these goods and services and how much you'll charge. These factors will comprise the essential foundation for your business, from a logical, mathematical standpoint.
The Importance of an ideological mission
Most businesses try to isolate themselves, at least in some way, from ideologies or political perspectives, believing that neutrality and non-involvement are essential keys to avoid disrupting the waters. However, serving some kind of social mission can be empowering, and can demonstrate your business’ level of commitment to your community, your environment and the general “greater good.”
This, in turn, will give you more opportunities to promote brand visibility, earn you a higher reputation among your customers and followers and connect you with powerful partnerships already tied to the cause.
The big hurdle then, is finding an ideological or social mission that aligns with your brand.
How to find a social mission that fits
So, how can you develop a social mission? First, consider the social missions you shouldn’t develop:
- Political agendas. Politics are stratifying, and even worse, they generally don’t do a lot of good in the world.
- Niche causes. Try not to narrow your focus too much -- you’ll want a broad impact and a broader appeal here.
- Charisma-fueled causes. If your mission is tied to any one person or brand, it’s going to be at risk over the long-haul.
As long as you avoid these particularly controversial topics, you’ll be in pretty safe territory. Rather than trying to rack your brain about what would “look best” or be best, start with your brand: who you are and what you offer -- and try to apply that outward. Chances are, you’ll naturally stumble upon some cause or some amount of good that your products or services could be affiliated with.
If you’re still struggling, the following social missions are almost never a bad idea:
- Environmental friendliness. Little changes add up, and it’s good to showcase those efforts.
- Local involvement. Your city is supporting you; so consider supporting it in kind.
- Economic impact. Donating a certain amount of your profits to charity or research and development in an important field can be good here.
How to implement a social mission
Once you have a solid social mission for your business, you’ll have to implement it throughout your company if you want to see its benefits:
- Make it a part of your brand. Your social mission should be defined, possibly as a kind of tagline, to be directly associated with your brand. Document it in your brand guidelines and make it a part of your corporate identity.
- Display your social mission wherever you can. Keep your social mission visible in as many materials as you can, from the About page of your website to the bylines of your press releases. This will help keep your cause top-of-mind among your audience.
- Empower your employees and teammates to engage in this mission. Remember, your social mission may be tied to your corporate brand, but it’s people who are going to be carrying it out. Make sure your team is on board with this mission, and keep it a priority for them. Get them involved by recommending volunteer opportunities, or including posters and other reminders throughout the office of your bottom-line social goals.
- Involve yourself in this mission in a visible way. At least once a month, your company should be involved in the execution of your mission. For example, you could donate money to a cause or host a fundraising event. Whatever you do, make it visible; for example, write up a press release or post something about the opportunity on your blog and social media profiles. While I’m not a fan of trumpeting my good deeds, it’s pretty necessary for a business to do in order to get noticed.
- Affiliate yourself with other supporters of this mission. Earn more visibility and do more good by aligning yourself with others who are already involved in this mission; they may be other organizations or corporations, or just noteworthy individuals (depending on the nature of your mission).
A note on multiple missions
Your brand will benefit by having one “core” social mission, but be aware that corporate social responsibility isn’t inherently limited to only one focus or approach. Your business can have multiple social goals, some of which aren’t even formally documented or publicized. Any time your business contributes to the greater good, you’ll stand to benefit in terms of visibility, reputation and connections -- not to mention the good karma you'll get in the process.
In sum, it's never too late to get involved. If your existing business doesn’t currently have a social mission, now is the perfect time to get started with one.