Being a business owner brings more responsibilities than you might imagine. While your goal is to earn money for you and other owners of the business, you have customers, community members, suppliers, employees and business partners who have needs or requirements, too. Satisfying these stakeholders helps your business thrive and avoid negative backlash.
Customers or clients are definitely a critical stakeholder group for your business. In general, your responsibility is to operate fairly and consistently while providing customers with a satisfactory experience. This includes openness and transparency in marketing and follow-through on promises made. If your company offers promotions or deals, it must honor them. Understanding customer expectations and delivering a quality, honest and fair experience bodes well for building a loyal customer base.
Customers are a part of your community, but the community stakeholder group is a bit different. Your community responsibilities include actively participating in community activities and giving back in some way. Joining local chambers of commerce and service clubs helps you establish a community presence. Giving to local charitable organizations and allowing employees paid time off to volunteer in service programs shows your commitment to being an active community member. Expectations of this stakeholder group have grown in the early 21st century as watch groups have pushed to make businesses more accountable to populations from whom they derive income.
Employees have always been integral to company operations, but your responsibilities to them have increased. Fair labor laws have legalized your duties to offer fair, non-discriminatory hiring and employment. More importantly, more workplace diversity means you need to promote a culture where tolerance and acceptance of differences are coached and appreciated. Plus, employees generally expect to be valued as key assets to your business. If you don't treat them as such, they will seek out alternative employment.
Your suppliers are no longer just companies you buy from. To maintain loyal, trusting relationships where you look out for each other's interests, you have to operate fairly and honestly with suppliers. Being up front with your intentions and building trust allows you to coordinate more efficient distribution processes, which minimize inventory costs and reduce stock outs. Business partners also expect that you meet your obligation to do business legally and ethically. If you pollute the environment or cheat on your business taxes, your business cohorts may suffer guilt by association.