If you?re even thinking about starting your own business, good for you. Nothing is harder than figuring out how to start a new venture, and nothing is more rewarding than getting your own paycheck. You might even want to start a business that supports great causes and promotes sustainability. And you can do that. There are plenty of successful companies that do good without compromising the bottom line. If you want your social good business to succeed, you need to honestly think through these three questions:
Just like any other business, your company needs customers. There are two different types of customers for a social-good business: the ones who love you for your business and the ones who love you for your social impact. Most of the people who walk through your door will be the first kind, so you need to offer them something that?s worth paying for and helps you accomplish your social good at the same time.
Georgetown, a Republican city in Texas, became the first in the state to commit to running on 100% renewable energy. The big sell didn’t come from the environmental impact it could have. It came from the lower energy prices and the greater price stability over the next 20 years. How’s that for some amazing benefits? Think about how you can accomplish your social good while running a successful business. Your social good benefit may not be the big seller, but your business can provide it in tandem with other benefits.
You might have an amazing idea that will change the world and give customers substantial value. But it won?t matter if you can?t deliver on your promises. Think about your idea and make sure that you can realistically make the leap from idea to successful venture.
One of my favorite horror stories is the Coolest Cooler. The Coolest Cooler was one of the most highly funded Kickstarter campaigns ever. It had all of these cool built-in features like Bluetooth speakers, a blender, a bottle-opener, a hidden compartment, and a bunch of other cool features (sweet, right?). It raised $13 million in 2014. But after only a third of the Kickstarter backers got their coolers, the Department of Justice got involved. Three years later, 20,000 people were still waiting for their coolers.
If you have a great business idea that people are willing to throw money at, you have to make sure that you can create and deliver it to them. That means your solar powered electric go carts idea had better be thought all the way out before you go ask for money.
Starting a business costs money and, if you?re like most entrepreneurs, you?ll probably have to ask someone to help fund operations. You have to accept one hard truth if you?re fundraising: No one will give you money if they don?t think they?ll make it back.?That means you have to work out the numbers to make sure that your great idea also makes business sense.
Tom?s Shoes is a great example of a business that is profitable and promotes great causes. Some of you probably wear Toms, but do you know why you pay so much for them? Part of the shoe price covers Tom?s One for One program which provides help to someone in need with every purchase. Tom?s used to just give a pair of shoes to someone with every purchase, but now they?ve partnered with charities that provide clean water, restore eyesight, and prevent bullying. If Toms can make almost $400 million a year with a business model that has purpose, creates a positive impact for society, and makes a profit, then you too can combine your passion with positive impact.
Tom?s Shoes can make money and give back to the world at the same time because they built it into their business and their prices. You can too if you think your business all the way through.
Learn more about companies that are doing well while they do good. Check out the B Corporation movement?and 1% for the Planet. Both of these communities certify for-profit companies that have positive impact on our society and the environment.
Do you know why massive companies like Microsoft, Uber, or FaceBook became so huge? They were early. They dove into industries that were either non-existent or very young, which gave them plenty of room to grow and become the dominant players in those industries. Sustainable business is a young and growing trend that your idea could grow to dominate. Think of all of the opportunities and new ventures that are there to create positive impact in the world. Imagine being the entrepreneur who seizes those opportunities.
Business can be powerful force for good. It can promote sustainability?and?create wealth and value. Whatever business you decide to start, know that you can both do well and do good. You just have to plan for it and execute on that plan.
Get paid to save energy?? If you live in California, there is a company that will pay you to save energy. 300,000 California residents have already signed up. They are working on expanding the program to other sates.
How does OhmConnect pay you to save energy??During peak hours when we are all at home, energy operators have to boot up more power plants. This is expensive. In fact, it’s so expensive that they are willing to pay consumers to use less energy.
Energy operators pay OhmConnect to reduce users? energy consumption because it is cheaper and more sustainable than paying power plants to increase production. Ohmconnect then pays energy users (you and me).
That’s right. Local energy authorities would rather pay YOU to save energy than pay the power plants to power up during peak times.
When exactly are peak usage hours? I don’t know. But OhmConnect does and they’ll let you know in advance.
How it works
OhmConnect sends you an alert 24 hours before peak usage?times so you can plan to turn off a few lights, postpone running the dishwasher or skip the microwave during this time period.
?The time period is called one?#OhmHour.
One?#OhmHour usually lasts about an hour.
OhmConnent pays you depending on how much energy you saved during the?#OhmHour.
The process was super easy. It took me 5 minutes to connect. So far, with 2 #OhmHours, I’ve been given 675 tokens. Over time, these will add up. Julie from CA earned $800 last year, according to OhmConnect.
Want to save more energy and make more money?
Connect smart devices!?You can also connect a Wifi Thermostat, Smart plug and/or Electric Car to earn more tokens leading to more energy savings and more rewards during #OhmHours!?
Turning on dirty inefficient power plants during high energy demand times is hurting our planet. By limiting energy use during these times we can help limit this. And we can get paid!?
Living clean is not easy. Scratch the surface and you’ll find plenty of dirty little secrets about what goes into our food, our environment and our bodies. Cleaning agents are no exception.?
Take a walk down the cleaning supply aisle and you’ll experience the familiar smell of chemicals emanating from plastic bottles. It’s enough to that make your head spin.
According to an Environmental Working Group study, 53% of cleaning products under review contained lung-harming ingredients and only 7% of the cleaning products even adequately disclosed their contents.
Why would our household items contain carcinogens, asthma instigators, and poisons? Does having a clean home need to come at the expense of our health? While there are many so called ‘natural’ brands that promote green cleaning products, let?s take a look at 3 sure fire ways we can clean up our act without breaking the bank.
1. Wash your windows with white vinegar
Window cleaners can contain shockingly toxic mixes of ammonia, ethanol, isopropyl alcohol, and methanol. Side effects from inhaling or ingesting these chemicals can include insomnia, dizziness, throat swelling, and even skin burns. While there are new types of window cleaners that are considered better, why not swap the toxic ingredients for something safe, natural, and less expensive like white vinegar? Vinegar is completely non-toxic, antibacterial, and is much more economical than standard window cleaners. Just mix one part hot water to one part distilled vinegar and add to your very own spray bottle. Clean as usual.
2. Clean your oven and your mouth with baking soda
Standard oven cleaners emit toxic fumes and contain large amounts of sodium or potassium hydroxide. While these chemicals can dissolve crusty baked on grease, they can also burn skin, lungs, and eyes. To clean your oven naturally, sprinkle baking soda liberally to cover the bottom of the oven. Spray with water, wait 8 hours, then scrub and wipe clean.
The fact is, air fresheners do not clean or purify the air. They merely cover up odors by emitting undisclosed mixtures of chemicals. These fragrance components can actually trigger allergies, asthma attacks, and impair reproduction. It may sound old-fashioned, but simply opening windows or installing a fan can make a huge difference. Better yet, if a room has an odor problem find the source and eliminate that instead of masking it with artificial fragrances.
Pro-tip: grab that box of baking soda and pour some into a bowl. It’ll absorb odors in your bathroom or fridge. ?
It’s Easy Being Green
While there are many wonderful brands out there devoted to making green products with accurate labels and effective ingredients, the costs can really add up. Simple decisions like swapping baking soda for toxic toothpaste or throwing out the Windex for something safer and more natural like white vinegar may seem small, but these little acts of integrity pay off in the long run for the mind, body, and planet.
I grew up in the land of yerba mate. In Argentina, the herbal drink yerba mate was served everywhere you went. The indigenous people of Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay enjoyed yerba mate long before the Spanish arrived. Over the years, mate became the drink of choice for many in South America.
Mate is the first thing people offer you when you visit. “Un matecito?” Family mornings start with mate. University students depend on it for long nights of study. Artists and musicians love their yerba mate muse. Conversation and insight are born around mate.
Mate brings the outdoors, the sierras and the forest, inside. And a circle around a fire, a Spanish guitar, or a philosophical discussion, can bring out yerba’s best flavors.
The caffeine-like substance in mate, or mateina, is a pleasure at any hour, especially when it is served traditional style: in a single gourd and with a “bombilla”, or metal straw. The gourd is passed around and shared with good company. Mate is a cultural drink, a form of giving and a receiving.
I have friends in Argentina that keep a hot water thermos in the car, always ready to brew. On my last visit, my childhood friend and I prepared to hike on a gorgeous autumn day. She packed a gourd, a bombilla, yerba, and hot water. This is truly a drink to enjoy at any time of day or night.
The benefits of yerba mate
YERBA, or Iles paraguarensis, is the name of the green, aromatic herb used to make mate. The drink evolved from jungle plant, to indigenous medicine, to South American tradition, and finally to the fashionable drink we know today.
Yerba is also a veritable powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. This is an herb that leaves green tea in the dust. Yerba has higher polyphenol and antioxidant content. And it possesses multitude of health benefits. ?
Can this simple beverage help save our planet?
One company is out to prove just that. Guayaki has built a model that places sustainability at the core of their business practices.
Harvard graduate Chris Mann and four of his pals stepped out of the traditional corporate path and created a new, ecologically sound company. They brought yerba harvesting back to the forest. Their mate is grown organically, like it was at the beginning, in the shade and under the canopy, for potency, clarity, vitality and well being. Guayaki Yerba is also a provider of local jobs that do not disturb the forest. Native people, yerba?s original tenders and consumers, are paid a living wage to plant and harvest the herb.
What drove their unique business model? Chris Mann said,
“It was while at Harvard that I realized, everything I was interested in is outside the system. …When asking professors what about environmental degradation, what about native people?s compensation, the answer always was: that’s outside the economical model, those are externalities.”
Guayaki was started in 1996 by two university buddies, Alex Pryor from Buenos Aires and David Karr from California. They were soon joined by Chris Mann, Steven Karr and Michael Newton. United by their love of mate and holistic living, they imagined a company that valued sustainable practices and respect for indigenous workers. Twenty-one years later, they?ve secured 60% of the Yerba mate market in the US. ?
This company, started with seventeen credit cards and a small loan, is now flourishing. They new goal: to protect and restore 200,000 acres of Atlantic rain forest and create 1,000 living wage jobs by 2020.
Guayaki is succeeding not despite their sustainable practices, but because of them.
Guayaki and other companies like them will continue to thrive because of our support. They are one of the many enterprises opening the doors to the economy of the future. They are sustainable, democratic, inclusive, and profitable. They represent the new economy.
Chris and his team recognize that business can be used as a force for good in the world. We can make changes by voting with our dollars and supporting companies Guayaki that care about all of their stakeholders (employees, suppliers, the planet and shareholders).
Your money makes a difference. The companies you decide to support will be the companies that flourish.
We need to create the motive and define the goals we want to see in the world. This isn?t a matter of benevolence or generosity. It is a as a matter of survival. Let?s live the change we want to see, so that we can protect our beautiful planet to future generations.
Check out more great interviews and videos from leaders in conscious capitalism, in the new feature film?Prosperity
“What I did was start investing in what I love and what I believed in?
Paulette Cole is CEO and creative director of the trendsetting Manhattan furnishing store ABC Home. But she?s more than an entrepreneur, she?s also a visionary. Her company lives and breathes the mission statement of using beauty, art, and wellness as powerful tools. Her aim is to heal the planet by transforming shopping into responsible retail.
Beyond furnishings and decor, ABC Home stores offer an oasis of all things bed, bath, baby, and beauty & wellness. ABC is also home one of the hottest NYC restaurants, offering an array of ?fine dining experiences. ?Her business model teaches consumers about the art of making their homes both a refuge and a creative, sacred space. To Paulette, shopping responsibly is a form connectivity: it brings together people, purpose, and planet. She?s the ultimate pioneer in eco-chic.
How did one woman build an empire inspired by eco-friendly shopping and indigenous design in a world that revolves around the bottom line?
?This is a story of beauty, wellness, wisdom, and love?
It all began in the 1980?s when Paulette set out to expand her family?s carpet business from an upscale design store into a mission driven business. ?From its inception, ABC Home followed the belief that every product sold should resonate with the heart. During the early days Paulette said, ?I didn?t really have a template to follow, so I trusted my intuition.?
In 2003, ABC Home made the decision to sustainably source all of their furniture and introduced the concept of ?Good Wood?? products made from trees that have been harvested from responsibly managed forests. Later, that idea would manifest into the Goodwood Plant a Tree project. For each Goodwood furniture purchase, a tree is planted through the Climate Poverty Reduction Program, an effort led by Professor Wangari Maathai?s Green Belt Movement. ?
By 2004, ABC Home was entirely dedicated to selling sustainable products like reclaimed salvaged goods, organic upholstery, fabrics, and vintage and antique pieces.
Beyond selling goods, Paulette wanted the company to do good. ?The goal was to keep world?s wellbeing in mind with every decision the company made. That meant only sourcing from businesses that were chemical-free, used wildcrafting, and were in alignment with organic principles. They went so far as to drop all chemical cleansers from the store and use only recycled paper, soy based ink, and biodegradable packaging (all while saving money along the way.)
Ultimately, these strategies resulted in a business that today educates, heals, and inspires consumers. Not only has ABC Home created a community and sanctuary for beautiful products brimming with integrity, but it has curated a living theater for art and wellness. As often as possible, Paulette wants the store to be a source of ?connectivity to a healthier place of wellness and prosperity.?
?I don?t think the world needs ABC to be another Billion dollar brand?
Like many large businesses, ABC Home was urged to ?grow big?. Paulette was not swayed by the prospects of scaling. She remained steadfast to the original business strategy and protected the uniqueness of the brand. Her tenacity defines her strength as a woman and CEO. ?The brand she built was not solely driven by the bottom line.
Today, sustainable stores face many challenges. ?More than ever, Paulette sees capital wanting to invest in vision, but also demanding a ?sure thing? that will bring competitive returns. ?Remaining dedicated to the brand?s mission while making profits is a delicate balance and not for the faint of heart. ?Building a business with ethics in mind means looking beyond profit and towards environmental and social responsibility. ?Paulette advises entrepreneurs, ?you?ll have to be willing to invest in the sustainability of that mission even if sales are swaying.?
?It?s the butterfly effect?
With ABC Home, Paulette wanted to give people the opportunity to connect with sources that they didn?t know were available. ?For instance, women seeking a pink sari at her store wouldn?t have to worry, ?whether that pink dye was low impact color or vegetable dyed, or whether the women who were weaving it are weaving it under fair trade circumstances.? ?Curating positive change in commerce starts with aligning your own vision and values with your daily choices. ?The food we put in our mouths, the clothes we wear, and the products we apply impact not only our own personal health, but the health our planet and communities, too. ?
Entrepreneurs, business owners, and people everywhere can begin the journey of building a healthier economy for the planet. Creating both a strong business and fruitful life hold the same principles: it?s all about combined efforts. Paulette sees an opportunity to redefine the concept of design and integrate it into a brand that helps people and planet. ?She urges consumers everywhere to step up and align their beliefs with what they purchase. ?If we do this consistently, it changes the way the world does business. Paulette already sees a Green Industrial Revolution in the works as more people opt for sustainable shopping and business. ?This process is a group effort though, one where the consumer?s voice is only heard when amplified by many. ?
How do we accomplish this task and what is her advice to accelerate conscious capitalism? According to her,
?Speak loudly even if your voice shakes…The consumer has to demand more.?
In the end, Paulette Cole transformed a mere family owned business into a revered sustainable shopping empire, one that millions of people admire. ?Her work is a living masterpiece and clearly defines a new era of design. ABC Home is the ultimate shift in paradigm and a business that continues to inspire truth seekers and entrepreneurs everywhere to voice their desires and vote with their dollars.
Check out more great interviews and videos from leaders in conscious capitalism, in the new feature film?Prosperity