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5 Steps to Creating Socially Conscious Projects That Matter Many business leaders want to do something important and valuable for their community, but it can often be a struggle to know where to start. Here are some rules I follow to find my best socially-conscious project ideas and put them into action.

By Oleg Krot Edited by Kara McIntyre

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

At some point, every company reaches a moment when it can afford to go beyond the mindset of "we need to focus on making money." Opportunities arise, along with the desire to invest a portion of profits not directly into the business but into initiatives that benefit people. In other words, to do something valuable for the community that uses its products or services. This is how corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects emerge, which, with a thoughtful approach, can become systematic support to society.

However, many small and medium-sized companies struggle to determine where to focus their efforts. Unlike billion-dollar businesses that can invest in various areas, these companies must concentrate their efforts. But on what: environmental initiatives, caring for vulnerable groups, humanitarian aid?

Here are five rules I personally follow and recommend to develop your best social intentions and put them into action in your business.

Related: Corporate Social Responsibility Can Give Entrepreneurs an Edge

1. Give yourself time to determine the priority direction

You don't necessarily have to chase trends and be yet another company that conspicuously cares about the environment or educates children in economically disadvantaged countries. Conduct surveys among your customers and employees. What interests and concerns them? Perhaps they have volunteering experience. In that case, as a company, you can join an existing project to amplify its impact.

For example, as someone who grew up in a family of doctors, I have always been closely connected to healthcare-related initiatives from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. To me, it is also a good approach to choose a direction that you are emotionally attached to and where you see personal meaning based on your own experiences.

2. Be bold with your ideas

A car company can take care of dogs and fashion designers can work on restoring park areas. Set budgets and focus on the community in which your company operates and coexists. Perhaps a local school needs support. Maybe it's worth renovating a house for the elderly or refurbishing an unused building that detracts from the overall appearance of the neighborhood.

Transform old, worn-out walls into stylish murals. Integrate a social component into your promotional activities with relevant call-to-action and infrastructure that allows your customers and partners to get involved in good deeds. Allow yourself to think outside the box, be bold and venture into areas that are not directly related to your core business.

3. Choose a manageable number of priorities

It's great if your company can systematically support multiple social initiatives — but if not, that's okay, too. Your resources are limited, so it's important to determine from the beginning what you will support and what requests you will decline. You can't save every rare bird, cure every child, extend the lives of every elderly person and singlehandedly clean the world's water resources from plastic.

Like business, corporate social responsibility requires focus and strategic thinking. You are not all-powerful. Start by organizing high-quality, long-term and comprehensive work in one direction. Once you gain experience and develop your business, you can scale up your social efforts.

4. Clarify the expected outcomes of your actions

A social project is, first of all, a project. It should have clear objectives, a coherent action plan, risk management and expected results. Determine at the outset what these results should be and how you will know when you have achieved them. If possible, quantify them with specific metrics.

For example, in one of our medical projects, we always inquire about the changes that have occurred since the acquisition of certain equipment in a hospital. How many additional people have received assistance? How does the quality of operations differ? Regularly measure the impact to assess the value created. This motivates you to keep going and do even more.

Related: 10 Ways to Make Your Business More Socially Conscious

5. Take initiative

The results of CSR projects may not be immediately apparent. That's normal because the best things in the world are built over time with persistence. There's no need to lose heart, give up, or seek ways to accelerate progress. Just take the next step. Over time, you will see that all the efforts were worth the time and energy because the work will become visible.

You will start noticing how things you invested in are changing slowly but surely. It's best when the feedback comes from the beneficiaries of the assistance. But don't wait for it — feedback will start coming one day. That's how it happens, so don't give up.

These principles help bring to life projects that change the lives of people or even entire regions. I've noticed that the large companies we admire often go beyond the obvious to make the lives of their employees and customers safer and more comfortable. It works for them, for us, and it will undoubtedly help you embark on the path of CSR to make a contribution to improving our planet.

Oleg Krot

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Managing Partner at TECHIIA Holding

Oleg Krot is an investor, serial entrepreneur and expert in technology. He is one of the managing partners of TECHIIA holding, which unites more than 10 international technology businesses that he and his partner have started since 2012.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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