CSR Explained: Supporting Entrepreneurship

In the coming weeks, we’ll be exploring how individuals, businesses and communities overcome barriers to entrepreneurship. Whether you’re a sole-trader, SME or a multi-national corporation – everyone has a role to play in promoting a vibrant landscape of opportunities for the next generation of businesses. In this edition of CSR Explained in 3 Minutes we highlight some different ways you can empower entrepreneurship as a business leader.

 

Pass on your expertise as a mentor, or encourage your employees to do the same. Providing the knowledge of experience, access to niche expertise or simply providing an opportunity to engage with a like-minded person, mentoring provides a positive, structured space for entrepreneurs to ask questions and gain valuable insight. If you have an inspiring message share it with larger audiences by speaking at events and offer learning you wish you’d be taught early on. A great way to engage with the start-up community on this level is to attend and support networking events for budding entrepreneurs.

Integrate start-up support into your supply-chain policy. Often the most important influence on whether a start-up succeeds or not is financial stability and therefore one of the simplest ways to support entrepreneurship is to put your money where your mouth is and use their services. There are hundreds of ways a business can integrate start-ups into their supply-chain without risk, smaller purchase decisions such how you fill the staff kitchen, team perks or stationary are a great place to start. Over time, establishing a culture of this type of support or writing it into you purchasing policy can reinforce your commitment.

 

“Attitudes to entrepreneurship are a key contributor to a countries entrepreneurial success, so use your voice.”

 

Support an enterprise organisation or an education organisation that promotes entrepreneurship. Access to business support and educational opportunities, especially ones which promote a proactive attitude, are one of the most significant contributors to driving entrepreneurship. Getting involved with, funding, entering a partnership with or simply supporting your employees to pursue involvement all contribute to the bigger picture.  Your local LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) or the National Enterprise Network directory are good places to start if you are seeking to work with this kind of organisation.

Get involved with start-up and entrepreneurship Awards. Start-up awards are a win-win for everyone involved. They endorse up-and-coming businesses, providing them with the credibility they have yet to earn, bring together innovative news businesses and established ones –  and everyone gets some PR. These kinds of Awards range from hyperlocal to global and can grow to be institutions in themselves, such as the Forbes 30 under 30 list, or simply provide a local trader with some much-needed exposure in their region.

Collaborate with like-minded businesses. Collaboration between businesses can bring strength and success in many ways, from innovation to infrastructure, but teaming up with other organisations passionate about driving entrepreneurship can strengthen the impact the resources you allocate to the task make and has the additional benefit of building your networks. You can approach this in a practical way, aiming to get on board with a venture that provides services that compliment your own organisations or team-up based on a shared vision.

Promote the conversation. Spread the word, signpost support and reiterate the positive value of entrepreneurship. Inspire the people building the future of business and influence others who play a role in empowering their success. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor counts attitudes to entrepreneurship as a key contributor to a countries entrepreneurial success, so use your voice.

Invest. Access to finance is one of the most significant barriers to entrepreneurship, often making the difference between success and failure for early-stage ventures and on a broader scale defining how vibrant a region’s start-up scene is. Whether you offer grants, supportive loans or simply make routine investments you’ll be providing valuable support.