My tough love approach (heavy on the love) focuses on bringing order to chaos, and creating solid (and straightforward) strategic plans. I take surveys for fun, never met a process I didn’t like, and am a big believer in personal growth as a keystone to business growth.
A recent article in Bloomburg Business entitled “The Do-Good Startups of Nairobi” discussed the growing trend of “impact investors”, with billions of dollars coming in from all over the world to fund clinics, solar panel retailers, clean water solutions, and a number of other businesses that seek to transform the local community. These investments aren’t always the most profitable, nor are they the most likely to succeed. So why do multi-billion dollar investing firms scour the world for these opportunities?
A cynic might say that it’s for the positive press, and they might be partly right. As we’ll discuss, some altruistic efforts can engage the public with your brand like nothing else can. The primary reason, however, lies in job satisfaction.
Humans are driven by a deep-seated need to make an impact on the world. Money satisfies us intellectually, but on the instinct level, it will never be enough. Even successful, experienced business owners tend to eventually say to themselves: “I’ve accomplished my goal, but for what? What was it all for?”
Without the ability to answer this question, many business owners become disillusioned with their success. This is where things start to go wrong, as seen in a recent article by The Toronto Star. When business owners feel that they’re not getting enough out of their enterprise personally, they’ll often start to make errors in judgment that they won’t worry about correcting. This can lead to bad business practices like the use of company funds for personal expenses, cutting corners, and a sacrifice in quality. The end result can be tax troubles, reduced profits, and the imminent failure of the business itself.
I’m reminded of Benjamin Todd’s “To find work you love, don't follow your passion”, which encourages us to ask the question mentioned earlier: “what is it all for?” To find an answer that satisfies the human instinct to see the world changed, many are transforming their businesses to include regular charitable interactions.
Some possibilities include:
A basic charitable donation
A product or service with a percent of the profits going to charity
Asking your customers for donations
Directly engaging your employees on a charity drive team (like the Big Bike for Heart & Stroke)
Creating a company-branded charity event such as a trivia night or gala
A great example is Rankin Construction, which holds a massive annual event to raise money for local cancer care. It’s called the Rankin Cancer Run and has become a major event in the city of St Catharines. Not only does it provide great publicity for the company, but it also makes a huge impact in funding cancer research.
Fostering a culture of giving can transform a business. When everything you do has a real and tangible impact on the world employees take more pride in their work and everything from budgeting, to quality control, to customer relations is all handled with more care. Clients feel they are making a difference and become emotionally invested in your success. In the end both groups become ambassadors of your brand which is an amazing tool for driving steady growth. That’s great but ultimately the real benefit to your business is finding the answer to that one burning question your instinct is yearning to answer. “What is it all for?”
How is your business giving back? Tell us in the comments below.
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