The key to making a profit and impact is actually to make a positive impact in such a way that generates profit. Obvious? Yes. Commonplace? No, not at all. However, driven by the efforts of B Labs, a new and positive trend is emerging: corporations existing to create social and environmental benefits.
And its a good thing, too. In the United States, consumers reward corporations for being responsible (read 5 Reasons Your Business Should be Socially Responsible), especially for the following causes:
- Environmental sustainability
- Supporting nonprofits
- Improving work conditions
- Empowering social causes
As such, it makes perfect sense for businesses to support these causes (morals aside). However, true positive impact comes when positive progress for these causes is achieved when it is integrated into a primary line of the business. As an example, a manufacturer who tries to offset its carbon footprint by donating profits to a sustainability charity does not create as big of an impact nor generate as much net income as a manufacture who integrates sustainability into its core business – from sourcing, to materials, to production, to shipping. Need more examples? Take a few minutes to watch this great video from NPR, titled “Benefit Corporations Aim to Make a Profit – and a Positive Impact“.
“There’s no reason that you can’t care about the world and also care about your own business.”
-Daniel Squadron, United State Senate
As simple as it might be to agree with, prioritizing your business efforts to make a positive impact takes a leap of faith. So here are four steps to think about it differently that makes it much easier to justify.
- Pick a cause, and identify what is broken.
- Select two main audiences: first, people who are currently being hindered by the issue, and second, those who can benefit from the cause being addressed.
- Figure out how both can win, and what winning is worth to both groups.
- Find builders to address the cause and create winners.