Photo by The Glitter Guide, If you have been paying attention to current events lately, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Bad news, more bad news, biased news, “fake” news … well, not this time. I have good news for you. If you are a business owner, you have the opportunity to change the world. You have the opportunity to make positive social and environmental impact, the kind of impact that improves people’s lives, preserves the environment, builds communities, and so, so much more.
Align Your Business With Your Values
As entrepreneurs, we put our heads, hustle, and hearts into building businesses and brands that we are proud of. The services we offer and the products we create exist because of our passion and perseverance. Our businesses are extensions of ourselves. They reflect who we are, what we believe in, and how we treat others, and by aligning our businesses with our values, we have the opportunity to make a real difference.
How can your business change the world? There are many ways to create positive impact through your business. To start, focus on your own business practices. Do you run your business with integrity? Are you being ethical in your business decisions? Do you even recycle? Take a look at your day-to-day business actions, and think about the habits you can tweak and the practices you can improve upon to make your business more sustainable and socially responsible.
In addition to improving your own business practices, take action to support others whose mission aligns with your values. Are you a creative entrepreneur passionate about saving the environment? A jewelry designer committed to fighting poverty? A financial planner dedicated to women’s rights? Identify the cause you care most about and make it a priority to consistently donate time, money, and resources to the non-profits, funds, events, etc that are representing those causes and creating impact.
Use your business platform and your influence to raise awareness about an issue you are concerned about and the solution you support. Your customers identify with your brand for a reason. If they can relate to the mission of your business and the purpose behind your products or services, there is a good chance they will be able to relate to your passion for raising awareness about the issues in the world that you care about. A word of caution here – do not, and I repeat, DO NOT confuse this as an opportunity to advertise your business with a “do good” narrative. Be authentic. The world needs you to lead by example and create a responsible business not hinder social and environmental progress, but contribute to local and global solutions.
Measure What Matters
Start by incorporating meaningful action into your business goals and objectives, and then, measure your progress. If you are truly interested in making in impact, you are going to have to be realistic, deliberate, and disciplined.
Free online tools like the B Impact Assessment, used by socially responsible companies like Patagonia, Etsy, and The Honest Company to achieve their Certified B Corporation status, make it easy to measure and manage your impact. The B Impact Assessment can help you understand the impact your business is having, evaluate the efforts you are making, and learn how to improve your business in a way that is better for your employees, customers, community, and the environment.
Think about the change you want to contribute to, and consider the effort you can realistically commit. Break down the process into goals that are challenging, but still attainable. Focus on “walking the walk” instead of “talking the talk,” and hold yourself accountable by keeping track of the outcomes of your efforts.
Small efforts over time make a difference, but if you are passionate about creating a big impact, it is worth developing a long-term strategy to create change. Adjust your business plan and incorporate impact business models into the structure of your company. Explore social entrepreneurship, and design solutions to specific social, cultural, or environmental problems.
Think proactively like ROAR for Good, a social impact start-up co-funded by tech entrepreneur Yasmin Mustafa set on reducing the rate of assaults against women while addressing the underlying causes of violence. ROAR designed a piece of fashionable wearable technology that deters attackers and instantly calls for help in the case of an emergency. For each device sold, a portion of proceeds is invested in educational programs that have been shown to increase empathy and reduce violence.
Think sustainably, like Ripple Foods, the brand co-founded by serial entrepreneur Adam Lowry (the man behind Method Soaps). Their pea-based milk product Ripple offers a creamy, and sustainable, alternative to dairy, almond, cashew, and coconut milk. Compared to dairy and almond milk, Ripple takes a small fraction of the amount of water to produce and emits less than half the amount of greenhouses gasses during the process. Ripple’s bottles are also made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic, which can be recycled by 99% of US households.
Commit to conserving the environment, hiring chronically underemployed populations, or raising money for charitable causes. The possibilities are endless, but make sure to never lose sight of what is important. Have empathy, for the people you are trying to help and the situation you are trying to improve, so that you can build lasting, impactful solutions to the world’s problems.
Create the Change You Want to See in the World
Real change does not happen overnight. It takes time. But when you take steps to make your business the best it can be for the world, however small those steps may be, you are making a difference. Align your business with your values, be intentional about your business decisions, and measure your impact. It’s not going to be easy, but by taking the time to make changes to your everyday business practices and support the causes you care about most, you are going to create the change you want to see in the world through your business.