I hope you’re having a stellar Friday. On my end, I’m deep in wedding planning and ready for some cooler fall weather! Football season is also kicking into high gear, so I’m pretty jazzed about that. Anyway, for our next installment of social entrepreneurship 101 I want us to move into the nuts and bolts of social entrepreneurship. These are the things like legal structure, funding, product creation, etc that make this whole world tick. Ready to rock? Good. Let’s do this:
You’re entering the world of cause-based business at a very exciting time. Millennials are using their enormous influence and buying power to shift the course of business forever. Today’s consumer is no longer content with a business that drives toward the single bottom line of profit. Instead, shoppers are demanding that companies adhere to the triple bottom line: people (or purpose), planet, and profit.
In the next few emails, we’ll cover the nitty gritty: building your team, funding your cause-based startup, and some special legal structures you can take advantage of as a social entrepreneur. As a start, let’s talk about how to create a product that is driven by social good.
The way you produce your product will be just as important as your purpose to a cause minded consumer. In the minds of today’s millennials, too many businesses are guilty of processes that exploit workers, the environment, and consumers. Because of this, you will need to develop a production process that demonstrates your commitment to the people and planet components of the triple bottom line.
Let’s explore what other companies are doing:
- LSTN Headphones – Take a look at the picture below, and you’ll see the result of a beautiful process:
Photo Credit: LSTN Headphones
These headphones are constructed from repurposed wood that would otherwise go to landfills. The wood design also creates a unique sound that is more pure and crisp than the unsustainable plastics used in other headphones.
- Sword & Plough – I love their motto about the materials they use: “if it doesn’t have a great story, it doesn’t make it [into our manufacturing process].” The main fabrics for S&P’s line of bags come from surplus military material that was otherwise headed to the trash. They’re also dedicated to hiring vets at every stage of their process, something that puts S&P in a class of its own.
- Modavanti – Modavanti is an example of a company where process = purpose. Fed up with worker abuses by the fashion industry, Modavanti developed a system to create transparency for all the products it offers. Each item of clothing on its site must come from companies that respect worker rights, worker safety, and pay a fair wage. Additionally, Modavanti uses a ‘badge system’ that ranks its products in such areas as: ‘eco-friendliness’ and ‘US sourced materials’.
- Indosole – Talk about a unique process, Indosole transforms old tires into beautiful sandals. Indonesia, where Indosole is based, has a massive problem with tire waste. So, Indosole uses its process to tackle the mountains of discarded tires and employs lots of Indonesian craftsmen in product creation.
The soles of these flip flops used to be tires!
I hope you now see how your process becomes part of your story. Your customers will expect that you’ve created a sustainable process from day one, so this is not something you can delay. Build it into your business at the beginning and then make it part of the story you share with the world.