by Gideon Kimbrell
Money drives many entrepreneurs, but it’s rarely their sole motivator. Startups are inherently plagued with setbacks, and new entrepreneurs have many long days (and a fair share of long nights) ahead of them.
When money is the only goal, it often leads to disappointment and burnout. But focusing on something larger than personal gain offers an extra layer of motivation to succeed. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start your business hoping to turn a profit, but it does mean that you should think about ways your business ultimately makes people’s lives better.
Everyone has a part to play in making positive changes. Your startup doesn’t have to be directly related to social good like GiveEasy or GoodGuide, though; you can still make a difference by finding creative ways to make social consciousness a priority for your business.
To be an engine for social change, you must start from the top:
- Establish a culture of consciousness. Start with something simple such as providing recycling bins to discourage waste or offering incentives for employees who carpool or ride their bikes to work. Then, consider delving deeper by offering paid time off to employees who wish to volunteer for a local nonprofit. Making it part of your company culture ensures that everyone on staff has the opportunity to share in your vision.
- Lead by example. They say that bosses tell you what to do, while leaders show you. The same holds true with socially responsible organizations. Don’t just tell your employees about all the great opportunities you’ve created for social good in your organization. You must demonstrate with your actions that you’re committed to social change. Some leaders may volunteer in their free time or go on mission trips in lieu of relaxing beach vacations.
- Get involved. While best practices, mottos, and mission statements are great, they don’t compare with actual involvement in the community. Structure your company’s social consciousness by getting involved with fundraisers, charity events, and other company events that present an opportunity to give back.
- Educate yourself on your business’s impact. We often hear about mission-driven companies getting caught up in socially irresponsible practices. Often, ignorance is the culprit. Maybe your manufacturing practices have been funding child labor or a prized vendor is guilty of environmental injustices. Do you know what your suppliers’ suppliers are doing? Make a habit of evaluating the implications of your decisions and your product life cycle to take control of your impact on the world.
- Get your customers involved. Leading by example doesn’t just apply to you and your employees. Your business can do the same with its customers. Encourage them to get involved with organizations your company supports. For instance, most mobile providers have partnered with the American Red Cross to push global disaster alerts out to their customers and allow them to donate via text.
- Donate a percentage of sales. Many foundations appreciate a time commitment, but they also appreciate your donations. Consider giving a percentage of your sales to a nonprofit or offering concessions to certain demographics. For example, you could offer free memberships or discounts to veterans.
From the beginning, our company has donated a portion of all proceeds to charitable foundations. It’s a large part of our company culture, and it also speaks to our affluent customer base. Many have disposable income and want to know that their investment benefits a good cause.
There are many ways to awaken your company’s potential for good and expand your awareness. You just need to identify them and set them in motion. With great success comes great responsibility, and as an entrepreneur, you’re in a prime position to make an impact on the world.
Gideon Kimbrell is a software engineer and entrepreneur. He is co-founder/CEO of InList.com, the premier app for booking reservations at the most exclusive nightlife, charity, and entertainment events in major locations around the world. He can be reached on LinkedIn and Twitter.
Geraint Rowland | Courtesy of Author