Building A Business like No Other: On Being a Socially Responsible Company
You can find entrepreneurs around you everyday. There are a lot of them in this world but only some select ones that you really do remember.
Their business is much more to profit, they leave behind an impact so great they are worth remembering.
What sets apart these kinds of businesses? What are they made of? What makes a business more than a money-making business?
What do they do? They are not just about the exchange of goods with money – they have more purpose. They give back to the society. They are socially responsible.
Businesses who are set out to be this kind of organization – they undergo these phases:
Stage 1 – The desire to be a business with a purpose has been established. For a start, you are probably donating a portion of your sales to a cause.
Stage 2 – Because you want to make a difference, a mission and vision is created to guide everyone in the organization. In whatever anyone does, the core values are imbibed. At this scale, the organization is making a social impact that’s worth noting of.
Stage 3 – This is the phase when your organization finds in identity – its position in the society. What you are, what you believe in, what drives you. This is the also the phase where you work on to make this situation sustainable.
We now move on to what types of businesses that you can emulate to progress through these stages.
One for You, One for Them
A lot of company has adapted this kind of business model in which for every purchase you make, they donate an equivalent to another cause. These are called the “Buy One Give One” (B1G1) projects and these are some companies who have tried their hand in this:
- Roma Boots
For every pair of boots you buy, Roma boots donate a new pair to a child who needs it.
This type of business model is straightforward. The cause is directly seen on the product. This in turn easily identifies the consumer as someone who also participates in this cause.
By making the cause visible to everyone, not only is the company involved in driving the change. The people who patronize their business as well. An example of a company who does this is:
They have products which are (PRODUCT)RED editions that whenever you buy from this line, a contribution is sent to the Global Fund that finances HIV/AIDS programs.
The products from this line are all particularly colored red breaking away from their usual designs to signify customer participation in this cause.
Another way of to be socially responsible is taking a portion of the sales for giving back. Like the “identity” business model, the customers are given the opportunity to give in terms of their purchases. It’s a story to tell for them and worth noting. The following company does this:
- MAC Cosmetics
They have a lipstick line called the MAC Viva Glam, where the proceeds are all forwarded to MAC Aids Fund.
Venue for Donation
There two interesting ways how this is done – but the bottom line is, the customer is also part of the social cause. They are given a venue to give.
One method is allowing the customer to pay what they can afford for a cause. The product has no exact price – the customer will decide what they will pay. The proceeds will go to a cause. An example of this is:
- Humble Bundles
A software company that releases digital products for a limited time, the sales are given to charitable institutions.
The other way is allowing the customer to choose which cause they want to help. A company can release several products corresponding to a different institution.
The proceeds of the product go to a particular cause. This is made possible so the customer can donate to the charity they prefer the most.
- 1 Face Watch Company
They sell watches in different colors, corresponding to a different cause. The customer can choose what cause they would be supporting, the color of the watch they will choose represents that.
This is another level of giving. It takes commitment to do this as what the heading said, this is about giving all the profits back to the cause.
- Newman’s Own
The company gives 100% of the after-tax profits from the sale of their products to their foundation, which in turns donate it to several charitable organizations.
Let’s talk about the raw material of the products created, another difference a company can make is ethical sourcing. The raw materials are obtained responsibly and in a sustainable manner. Furthermore, the people involved in the production are treated fair as well.
Their coffee is sourced from farmers and suppliers who grow their own beans. Coffee is one on the world’s first sustainable product that has improved the lives of more than a million people all over the world.
A different way to generate interest among customers is through auction – auction of experience that is. People will bid for the experience – the highest bidder wins and the proceeds are donated to the cause.
Omaze has been a venue for organizing events like this. For example, they had this event where you get to spend time with the Pitch Perfect cast and do a small role even! Amazing, right? And it’s all for a cause.
Companies can also be committed without giving donations. They can give livelihood to a community instead. Help is given by providing work and source of income to a community to be able to support themselves.
Wesfarmers of Australia create jobs in some locations in Asia, giving some communities economic benefits.
This is about enriching the lives of everyone involved, from the source to the consumer.
- Good Eggs
Good eggs enables the source (example, the farmers) to sell directly to the consumers. It eliminates the middle man in the transaction. This is also favorable to the consumers as they get it fresh from the source.
This business model is very helpful most specially to developing countries. This is where individuals are given an extra income to make their lives better. They are given the opportunity to be entrepreneurs on their own.
- Living Goods
Living Goods adapts this business model. The people become entrepreneurs by promoting health and better lifestyle through their products.
Living Goods allow their entrepreneurs a loan to purchase the start-up kit for the business. They go from house to another, discuss to families and individuals how their products can change their lives.
Living Goods products are all about treatments for diarrhea, water filters, and more that improve the quality of lives. At the same time bringing extra income for individuals who join the cause.
Building a Community
When a company reaches a certain point, they can expand – but they expand with much more purpose. They build a community.
Zingerman’s has built a community of businesses. They started with a deli business that has become successful. Later on, they ventured in other 15 other businesses that are connected with each other.
It has a become a community of businesses where they can supply each other, and at the same time provide products outside the group.
You see entrepreneurship doesn’t have to be all about profit and money. It can be a meaningful activity. Your business can have a deeper, lasting objective.
Not taking away the fact that you still have to generate income for you and for the employees who depend on you, you can create a bigger purpose.
To go towards this direction, we have discussed sample business models your company can adapt as a start. Being socially responsible can make you the company who leaves a mark. This is a kind of satisfaction money can’t buy.