As a Wealth Management Advisor and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), I advise entrepreneurs and business owners how best to grow their enterprises and to prepare for the future. With my latest entrepreneurial venture, I wanted to do more than just maximize profit. I wanted to be a disruptor and have others join my cause.
So, I decided to start my apparel business with a focus on social entrepreneurship that would make a significant impact in the world around us.
At face value, it can seem difficult to do so if your business isn’t about a product or service that directly improves the world. But, no matter what your business does, you can structure the organization to change the world positively.
If you’d like to have a similar mission for your business, but aren’t sure where to begin, start by asking yourself these 8 questions – the answers will lead you in directions you’ve likely never considered.
1) Can you hire an opportunity youth, a veteran, or a person living with a disability?
Providing a person with a job that they may not normally be considered for can change their life significantly. What’s more, giving one person a chance has a spillover effect, giving that person the opportunity to make an impact in their own family and community.
2) Are you offering a living wage?
There are a lot of definitions of ‘living wage’, but what it really means is a large enough income to maintain a normal standard of living. Not only are you helping a person, their family and their community, you’re stabilizing your employment base and creating loyal employees, too.
3) Are you reducing your water usage or increasing your recycling?
We only get one planet, and no matter how you feel about the “green” movement, it’s hard to argue that being efficient with your water usage and recycling is a bad thing. What’s more, the efficiency improvements can increase your bottom line at the same time.
4) Can you match your employee’s charitable donations?
Matching donations creates a ripple effect of donated dollars, improving the organizations you donate to and the people those organizations support. What’s more, by giving employees the chance to guide charitable giving, you further empower them to improve their community. (And, from a purely business perspective, these donations build the reputation of your brand since the matched contribution comes in your company’s name.)
5) Can you offer Impact Investing mutual funds in your retirement plan?
By making Impact Investing options available to your employee’s retirement plans, you allow your employees/individual investors to make a difference with their investment dollars while taking advantage of existing retirement benefits.
6) Can you volunteer together as a team?
If you don’t have the funds to match donations, then you can still give back and work as a team to help organizations. If you let the employees vote on the organization to volunteer for, you can still empower their giving and, as an added plus, it’s great team building.
7) Can you utilize a unique population (i.e. women returning to the workforce, current prisoners or formerly incarcerated individuals, college interns, people with limited mobility) to contribute to your business?
By supplementing your workforce with non-traditional resources, you can provide a trade for someone who needs to increase their experience base for future opportunities (without necessarily hiring them directly). If you give just one person an opportunity that they take advantage of, the long-term impact on their families, friends and communities is almost too big to measure.
8) Can your company become B Corp Certified?
Similar to LEED certification for buildings, B Corp certified businesses are those companies that are making an impact for a better world. The application process (found here) can lead you on the path to becoming a more social enterprise and providing you an added recognition (to both potential customers AND potential employees).
What ideas can you create for your company?
Becoming a social entrepreneur doesn’t mean losing money or spending big dollars on certification programs. It’s about making a difference in a way that is authentic to you and your company. Ultimately your goal is to change the lives of those who work with you, work for you, and live in the same community that you do business.
I challenge you to think of ways not only to maximize profit but to maximize your impact in your industry and in your community.