The kids are growing up
Or, in reality, they already have. Surprise: millennials are not early twenty-somethings who like avocado toast—that’s Generation Z. Millennials are actually thirty-four-year-olds who love avocado toast. However, the important takeaway is that millennials and their successors, Generation Z, are capitalizing on the market, and as a business owner you need to understand what they want. If you don’t? Well, I have two words—print newspaper.
So what do they want?
They love that “feel-good type of stuff”
You know, ethical business practices, local employment with living wages, diversity, and being environmentally sustainable. This is exactly why social enterprise is becoming more and more important; these two generations not only judge a product or service but the entire business structure that creates it. If you’re not engaging in practices that go beyond simply making profits then you are quickly going to fall behind, and they will notice.
They will notice because they research, a lot
Simply donating to charity and giving your business a pat on the back will no longer cut it. People are making more informed purchase choices by researching products and services online extensively before purchasing, and if you don’t provide the information, they will go looking themselves. If these consumers see something they are not fond of, they may never become a customer or may stop being one.
This is why your social enterprise needs to be genuine. If it is not, these younger generations will see right through it. When choosing how you want to contribute, make it something you are passionate about. You will never be able to convince others to believe in the value of your social enterprise if you don’t.
Social value is monetary value
It is a social enterprise—we should not pretend it’s all about money—but let’s face it. If you do not have money, you cannot conduct business.
Adding a social value to your business can often feel like adding a fluff piece to your business, but it is not. Millennials will start or stop a relationship with a business based on its impact on the environment or society, and Gen Z is following suit. All that “feel-good type stuff” can directly affect your bottom line through customer relationships, branding, and employee turnover.
However, it is important to understand that a social enterprise is not a magic wand and becoming a social enterprise will not automatically set your business up for success. It simply provides the structure and opportunity for you to deepen relationships with your customers through the way you do business.
But what about those who do not care about a social enterprise?
Well, do they steal lunch money from little kids too? Okay. Probably not.
People who have no interest in social value are generally indifferent to a business having it: it won’t stop people from doing business with you. If you have done your research, have a strong business model, good customer service or product, then your business will have all the same components and challenges as a traditional business.
In summary, you have far more to gain with a social enterprise than you do to lose.