A Bright Future for Small Business CSR


A new dawn approaches.

It is  six and a half years since an idea became a company and Coethica entered the world. The early road was shrouded in mist with never-ending alternate junctions and diversions. Coethica was a response to Corporate Social Responsibility being, well, very corporate. Too corporate and not enough entrepreneurial. With a useful address book, a few awards,  a stubbornness and a ‘plan’, we were setting off to make work a better place to live.

Like any entrepreneur will tell you each day is a test of priorities and Olympic plate-spinning challenges. In many cases days are filled with fire fighting the almost pitiful burden of red-tape and planning is a very reactive pastime. My particular journey had a bewildering array of none business related potholes for the first leg of the travels that kept the project in first gear. The second leg was dominated by our experiment with social media, which is pretty much public record, all great fun, full of reward and learning.

The third leg began only recently as the potholes and distractions cleared,  and for a while and an absent friend called space was an initially unrecognised surprise visitor. Wow – years had passed, including my son’s whole lifetime, and Coethica had grown like awakening from a dream with no time having ever passed. The ability to think creatively without a list of attention stealing demands soon became tolerable.

To be specific, and to garner your support, here is the current position…

For the first six years I had found myself uncomfortably describing Coethica as a CSR consultancy, yes it was what we do, but not everything. I knew it wasn’t accurate yet I never knew why it didn’t feel right. I don’t see myself as a social entrepreneur but I aspire to be a more-than-profit type businessman. The clue was looking back at what we had done and how we did it. The two big not so surprises (with hindsight) were that half of our revenue was from training related engagements and how much time we had donated to great social business ideas and people with passions and dreams. I’m not going to divulge how time much we ‘strategically’ donated, let’s just say my accountant and I have different opinions.

With a couple of months reflection behind me now it is obvious that Coethica needed to evolve. It was never a traditional consultancy, it was me and colleagues pushing an entrepreneurial badge-avoiding better business agenda, especially at smaller businesses. What we were was an informal platform, and there I believe lies our future.

Here’s the plan so far. To play to our strengths, be true to our actions and push as hard and as far as we can whilst there is a fair wind. The biggest challenges at the smaller end of the market are a substantial lack of awareness, misconception where little knowledge exists and a credible support mechanism. Coethica’s redefined purpose will be to inspire, challenge, and support this 99% of business  (including pre-starts / students / school children). We are looking to create a new social enterprise with a very open and collaborative ethos to sell better business by delivering innovative training, guidance resources, events, brokerage, lobbying and awareness campaigns in a language and attitude that SME owner / managers can engage with.

We’ve built over six years worth of market research, case studies, reputation and audience to give our fourth leg a head start, and I intend to exploit them for every ounce of social value.

We can’t do this on our own and I’m starting to share our ideas, suggestions and plans to interested parties to build partnerships to deliver something powerful. If you think you could / want to play a part in accelerating CSR at the smaller end of the market get in touch via david.connor@coethica.com and let’s explore how we can spread the better business word to the 99% together.

If not you, tell us who else you think we should be working with?

I’ll keep you updated!

4 thoughts on “A Bright Future for Small Business CSR

  1. Paul Dunn

    Well done, David.

    And we’re right there with you — SOLIDLY focussed only on SMEs (or SMBs if you prefer).

    As you know well, 70% of the economic wealth and power of the so-called ‘rich economies’ is driven by SMEs. So when we really find a way of seriously connecting with this sector (and then having the sector connect with its marketplaces and so on), we will be closer than ever to seriously enhancing our world.


    1. davidcoethica Post author

      Hi Paul

      I’d prefer no badges at all. at least those facing the business community. There are too many badges competing for space when the reality is about the impacts – it’s just robust business practice (albeit with wider than vision than current) and applicably to any organisation that sells anything!

      That statistics about this vague mass of businesses are incredible are often overlooked by those in institutional ivory towers – so we’re going to make sure they take better notice 😉

      You mention marketplace, another cannibalised word of modern management parlance. The so-called experts have forgotten where the term originated and the intrinsic values; in real world markets of old where villagers knew the community (stakeholders) and the connectivity was much stronger that a Twitter follower.


  2. Donna Okell

    What a fabulous read to start this lovely, sunny May morning. It’s inspiring to see such integrity and honesty – but not surprising, coming from David Connor! I agree that there is a real opportunity to shape the CSR (or more accurately, SR) agenda as it progresses. The sphere of influence of SMEs is extensive and powerful and taking a ‘bottom-up’ approach is working. I’m keen to collaborate with you. Combining our varied skills, experience and efforts as Social Responsibility practitioners will produce effective and interesting results.Exciting times ahead!


    1. davidcoethica Post author

      I think the future is getting brighter, and not just the amazing whether we’re having!

      We need bottom-up AND top-down, but I think we both agree it’s time for much more from grassroots businesses – they just need to be made aware of their opportunities and how to realise the potential growth. I think it is almost inevitable that we will all be seeing a reverse globalisation effect that will nurture stronger local / smaller businesses activity to have any chance of achieving the grand sustainability targets.



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