The essence of socially responsible business behavior is to create a culture that encourages employees to do their best work and to treat each other with respect.
If we get into how business works, we can get into almost anything. If we get into how we treat each other, we can get into almost anything (literally). I think it’s important to remember that there are no rules to social behavior, so it’s okay to give each other a little slack.
I think that what I’ll be talking about for the rest of this talk is social behavior. I’ll be using the word “social” loosely to mean “without rules and boundaries.” I’m not talking about social games like poker, or games like Scrabble, or even just sports. I’m talking about the social behavior that occurs between people in a business setting.
This is a business setting. The rules of business and the rules of social behavior aren’t exactly the same, but they do overlap. The business rules are to be followed, even if you disagree with them. The social rules are more about not allowing people to take advantage of you and to keep everyone as a little bit more in line as a business entity. For instance, if you get a new customer, you have to treat that customer with respect.
The fact is that the social behaviors we are taught in school are very different from the kinds we see in our everyday lives. The social behaviors that you learn as an adult, that are very familiar and comfortable, are not the kind you see in a business setting. It is not that you do not see people acting socially. It’s that that’s a very different behavior than what’s expected in the workplace.
Businesses are going to be very different from most other places in the world from here on out. It is important to take the right attitudes as a business owner. You have to show your customer that you are nice and welcoming, that you are not trying to pressure them to buy, and you are not trying to sell them something. You have to treat your customers in a way that is appropriate to their level of trust with you.
There is a lot of great advice out there that goes a long way to make you a more pleasant and successful business person. Unfortunately, there is a lot that comes with being a business owner that will be different than your normal life. Most of the advice is centered around the idea that you can control your employees, but I think that this does not go far enough. Employees are only a small part of what makes your company successful. You also have to manage your customers and manage your finances.
As an entrepreneurial owner my biggest advice is that if you have a job that requires you to interact with customers (like an accountant, a lawyer, or a doctor) then you need to have a person who’s familiar with the industry who you can call when you’re stuck. It’s not always super easy to have a person you can call in a crisis when you’re starting out.
Being a good leader is not always easy. For example, if you are a small business owner with a limited budget, a lot of your first decisions will be driven by the need to make a quick decision that might be in your own self-interest. But when you have a small team you might not have the luxury to make that kind of quick decision.
However, if you have a person who can help you with this, especially if you know they would be a good person to call or email, then you can get some great advice right away. You can usually find a good social/work/financial consultant or an accountant that isn’t too expensive and can help you out in a pinch.