Social enterprise is a thriving sector of UK business. And many companies, while not strictly social enterprises themselves, are forming their marketing plans around a clear social mission. If the way you run your business is based on a passion for a certain cause, there are certain pitfalls to avoid if your reputation is to remain untarnished among the target market who share your ideals.
Cast your minds back 18 months, the tabloids were engulfed in the phone tapping scandal that threatened the existence of some of Britain’s household names. Although few of us will grieve for the loss the News of the World’s gripping exposés, the whole sorry affair raises some serious concerns. While we could endlessly debate about the rights and wrongs about what happened, I would like to raise only the issue of outsourcing and its effect on your business’s moral compass.
Editors were quick to protest their innocence and point the finger at external contractors, claiming that they had a duty to report the news provided to them, even if its origins were unknown. Many of us can sympathise with those who claim that they cannot expect to know the exact methods of everyone they deal with, however the public were far less likely to accept this plea of ignorance.
Your business may be built on a stronger ethical framework than a red top, but what can you learn from this situation? You may have a clear vision, and a mission that is reflected in your company’s operation, but this may be compromised if those you work closely with are not singing from the same hymn sheet as you.
Then what is the best way to avoid this? The easiest answer would just be to do everything in house would it? While this is the route many would choose to go down it is rather short sighted and may cause more problems than it solves. Your business started as passion for something that you yourself are good at. The more resources you use to channel this passion, and the less time you waste doing the things you don’t like, the more likely you are to succeed in your mission.
Another possible way is to rigorously vet everyone you go into business with. This has worked for large supermarkets, which made suppliers jump through hoops to retain their business. However, do you have the time to do this? And, being realistic, do you have the buying power?
Another issue is where to draw the line. OK, you have found the ideal partner, but who else do they work with? It is impossible to know the ins and outs of everyone in your supply chain. Something that the supermarkets, with their infinite resources, have suddenly learned the hard way. Horse meat lasagne anyone?
You are walking on a tightrope and finding the right balance is the key to success. Building an effective network of only people who share your vision is farfetched, but it is important to make sure that everyone on your payroll respects your moral obligations.
Author Bio: Joe Errington is a SEO and social media executive for MITIE. A strategic outsourcing company who look after the facilities management of companies in the UK and abroad.