There are tons of companies that have been started based on someone’s particular value! Many of these companies have replaced traditional non-profits and are operating as a true social impact business. Their mission leads everything they do, but they are also in it to make money. They know that making money provides them the power to make the change they seek. Their marketing often includes educational information about the cause they hold dear and their team tends to share their dreams for social change.
We have heard over and over that some of the most successful and innovative companies are those that solve a problem. I’m raising the bar on that adage and saying that the most successful companies in the coming years will be those that solve a problem using a value they hold dear.
Examples of these values can be seen in companies that started because they had a strong connection to the following:
changing the conversation
Companies that are founded to foster community include such things as coworking spaces, coffee shops, and Crossfit gyms. Built on the beliefs that isolation is a universal problem and finding your tribe is the solution. People who start businesses with a focus on community build ways for connection and collaboration into everything from the structural design of their space to the organizational design of their management. Many times businesses are finding ways to build community outside of their normal business activities. A local wine store in my town, Casa de Vino 57, now hosts yoga classes once a week to connect people who love yoga and wine!
Businesses large and small have been started to focus on environmental issues. A far cry from the unemployed tree-hugger meme we grew up with, these product-based environmentally focused companies are taking the time to be sure the products they produce are better for the environment and yet, still high-quality. Affirmats makes yoga mats from a Jute blend on a Polymer Environmental Resin which makes them biodegradable, and The Girlfriend Collective makes leggings out of recycled water bottles. Taking it even a step further is a whole new group of consultants who aren’t making any products. For example, WasteZero is a for-profit consulting firm on a mission to cut trash in half by working with public and private entities.
We see a focus on clean/fresh/local food in everything from local restaurants to supplements and meal delivery. The goals here tend to be sourcing from the highest quality ingredients and making “choosing healthy” an everyday part of American life. Farm to table restaurants, scratch caterers, and others are providing authentic, thoughtfully prepared food that is sourced locally and hyper-fresh. One of my personal favorites, Daily Harvest is a food delivery service that sends smoothies, ice cream, and overnight oats to customers across the country. Blue Sage Cuisine, in Jacksonville, who I am featuring tomorrow is one of just many caterers I’ve met who are using their values around food to create beautiful elegant events.
In fact, because local, fresh, artisan food is one of my personal values, I’ve decided to feature food-based entrepreneurs all month! From resharing my love of Osprey Tacos, The Honey Truck, Andrea Borgen of barcito, and the amazing Regrained Supergrain+ bars to introducing you to some new and amazing brands, I’ll be sharing how these Changemakers love of food is fueling their business and creating local change.
Next up is “changing the conversation” - this is one of my favorite values. In fact, one of my first posts was about disruptors! The value behind these companies is that there is (or could be) a new way of doing things and that we should definitely be talking about it. We see this evidenced in companies like maude - a gender neutral sexual pleasure company or Maven - a video operated healthcare company. We also see this with consulting firms and investment firms who are working with companies to include more women, people of color, and LGBTQA people in conversations, policy-making decisions, and funding rounds such as the people I featured earlier this year: Emily Howe & Bernadette Smith.
Finally (though this list is in no way exhaustive), there is a large group of companies whose business activities are deeply connected to a social issue they want to change. Her Future Coalition created jewelry centers in India and employs survivors of human trafficking to design and make the jewelry they sell worldwide. They are also unique because they are a partially employee owned company. Cala, in San Fransisco, is one of many restaurants who partner with non-profits to hire ex-offenders and lower recidivism rates.
The great thing about discovering all of these various companies is that it makes it so much easier for us, as consumers to spend our money with companies who share our key values! And while you may not plan your entire business around one key value, knowing what your key value is will definitely help you create more profits + impact in a joyful way.
I’ve also discovered as I researched these companies and interviewed many of their founders that they are incorporating lots of other values into their business besides their key value. Many of them are paying higher wages, offering benefits, exploring supply chains, using environmentally friendly materials, and focusing on clean ingredients…and the combinations are endless. The impact your business can have is limited only by your imagination.