As you’ll have read in my last post, Boss Foundry has had a 24 carat makeover.
Instead of only focussing on the money you can make from your business, I’m going to be exploring how you can set up and run a profitable business while also standing for values.
This has been spurred on because I’ve found lots of business coaches online focussing on what money you can get from your customers rather than how you can help them. This makes me feel all kinds of sad because it assumes that you’ll be happy with money alone (you won’t) and that your customer won’t be put off by a focus on cash (they will).
In fact, in a recent survey by Nielsen, 55% of customers said they would be willing to pay more for products or services from a company which has a positive social or environmental impact.
When I speak to people who aren’t particularly sure how they can make a change in the world with their business, they often struggle to appreciate the power they wield. They look at ‘making a difference’ in narrow terms such as charitable donations, or running a not-for-profit organisation, without appreciating the broader scope of the impact they can have. This means that they have difficulty believing that they can make a profit AND make a difference.
The result? Either they run a profitable business but feel unfulfilled because they don’t believe they’re changing the world in anyway, or they discount their prices and think they’re changing the world by giving their work away cheaply (and in the process leaving themselves on the brink of bankruptcy).
For me, neither of these are acceptable. You’re here because you want to make a difference and a profit, and I want to show you how.
So, I thought that as a starting point, I’d write a post to spotlight 6 different ways your business could make a difference at the same time of making a profit. This is meant to be a starting point for you to consider how your business – regardless of whether you’re starting out or scaling up – can operate in accordance with set values are truly stand for change.
Have a read of the 6 options below and see whether any of these resonate with you. This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list and you can find your own way through this. The important thing here is to make a difference in a way which feels good and in line with how you want your business to be rememered.
1. Provide useful product & services
The simplest step is to have a product or service which brings positive change to people’s loves. This can be across a whole range of options, and once you tune into what other businesses or doing then you’ll find it everywhere. Change can happen in many ways. from making people’s lives easier by selling them a physical product, or providing them with a service which means they can achieve more of their dreams.
Either your business is selling something genuinely useful or it isn’t. This isn’t something you can make up in your sales copy, and you have to fully believe in it. This means you should stand behind the values across your social media, website and service/product descriptions.
Think of a business like Pip & Nut, a company which produces nut butters because they’re passionate about putting nuts back on the nutritious map as well as making it very clear that their products contain no palm oil. Check out their website and they’ve even got a whole page dedicated to their values. They want to change the world in their own specific way (getting people healthier by eating more nuts and helping the environment by consuming less palm oil), and they aren’t going to keep quiet about it.
2. Build a community
If you build a community of likeminded people, you allow them to meet one another and share their experiences. The result? They feel less alone and they feel part of something bigger, and can mobilise together for the greater good. As with providing a useful product or service, this goes deeper than your website words.
It’s easy to set up a Facebook group, ask questions every Monday and hope for participation, but building a community takes more energy.
It means genuinely caring about the people in your community and making them feel part of a wider movement For example, it’s the difference between being a business coach who stands for female empowerment who does a quick notification that a women’s march is coming up in New York, versus a business coach who attends herself, waving a placard on the front row.
Who does this well? Check out Cup of Jo, who has a website with tips on motherhood, career and lifestyle. She doesn’t have a stereotypical community in terms of a Facebook group, but she has an engaged blog where she shares personal experiences, asks for thoughts then takes time to reply to readers’ comments.
How does she change the world? She allows women a safe space to discuss what matters to them, and she is honest with people about her own experiences. She shared about her experience with depression, and her tone of voice is confessional without feeling insincere.
Think about your business and what you can do to help your audience feel as if they belong to something bigger than just the product or service you’re selling.
3. Pay what you can day
We all need to make money, and making money comes from selling your products or services at a price which enables you to make a profit.
However, the price which makes you a profit might mean that you’re not serving all the people you want to. Perhaps the price you need to sell for makes you feel as if a group of people can’t afford what you sell, even though they could benefit.
There’s an interesting trend which I’ve noticed over the last couple of years called ‘pay what you can’ days. This is where people with valuable content have a day a year, perhaps to mark a special occasion like a birthday or their business anniversary, where they say clients can pay what they can for one of their flagship products.
Danielle Laporte does this, and it translates as being an entirely genuine decision where she only wants to benefit her audience. You can read what she says about it here.
4. Give great content for free.
If you do pay what you can every day, you won’t have a sustainable business. However, what you can do is give away great content for free which you think will benefit your audience.
Think about what knowledge you have which could inspire them, and make their lives better. This could be a free e-book, or a workbook, or a free webinar. Don’t be particular about the format; start with what you can do for your audience for free and build out from there.
5. Treat people as you want to be treated
In business, it’s easy to fall into a corporate trap and think you must behave like someone from 1980s ‘Wall Street’ to succeed. Think hiring, firing, money money money. In reality, you don’t need to do any of that to succeed.
You can be thoughtful, positive and kind, and still make money.
You can hire people to work for you, be nice to them, and still get results. You don’t need to shout at someone to do what you need to, and you don’t need to dress like Melanie Griffith in Working Girl to run a profitable business.
Being a catalyst for change includes being true to your personal values, and if your personal values include being nice to people and wearing poodle skirts then so help me God that’s what you should do.
Look at Alexandra Franzen, who is successfully, unapologetically, herself and has built a six-figure business in the process.
I’m going to round off this round up with the typical image that springs to mind when you think of businesses making a difference. Donations.
You can use your influence for great causes, as you have the audience to help you make greatness happen. Check out Melyssa Griffin, who raised $119,237 for charity in 2 weeks by selling online courses for charity. She wrote a whole post about how she did it here, and mentions that she has always wanted to build a business with philanthropy at its core.
Has this given you ideas about how your business can stand for change and making a difference? Hit me up in the comments, I’d love to hear it!
Here’s to businesses that make waves,
YOUR BUSINESS IS YOUR REVOLUTION.
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