So you’ve got a brilliant business idea? You’ve poured your heart and soul into making it happen: you’ve secured capital, built a dynamic leadership team, and it’s almost go time.
It’s possible there are some ingredients missing. Ingredients that could increase brand awareness, attract top talent, increase profits, and help make the world a better place.
Becoming a conscious startup
We are heading into a new era – a time when consumers and employees want to know the businesses they support are ethical, conscious and generally trying to do the right thing.
A 2014 study by the Ethical Consumer and the Consumer Data Research Centre shows the value of ethical spending grew by 9% in 2013. And you want a piece of that market.
Here are five ways you can hit the ground running as a conscious startup:
1. Load up on values
Values are your foundation. Envision the type of world your business can help build. What values are intrinsic to your vision? Get these core values down on paper and make them your directional compass for decision making and planning across your entire business. For example, if integrity is one of your core values – do you ensure all of the companies from which you procure treat their staff with integrity?
2. Perfect your mission design
Sure, your mission is to make a profit – to be the best at what you offer. But is there more? Can you design a mission that moves beyond your product or service to a mission that makes a commitment to being responsible citizens who want to make a positive difference? Remember your values? Does your mission reflect what you value in the world?
3. Create conscious teams
Hire not only the brightest, but also those who align with the values that will make you a conscious company. Make “dedication to create a better world” a qualification for all your hires.
Having these types of people onboard will breed innovation and nurture a dedicated team. Provide opportunities for your staff to grow not only the skills for their position, but also to learn more about some of the social and environmental issues related to your industry. People want to feel a part of something bigger – what is bigger than contributing to a successful company that does good?
4. Collaborate outside of yourselves
Seek out organizations who are working on the social and environmental issues that could be impacted by your work. Find out what the issues are, learn more about what those organizations are doing to create change – listen – and find out how you can help.
Who knows – there might be some really innovative partnerships out there that could exponentially grow the positive impact your company would like to make.
5. Know your inputs and outputs
Whether it is procurement or infrastructure – find out what went into what you are buying and what happens to the waste from your products. Are there actually fair wages and safe conditions for the workers? Are there less toxic options? Can you reduce your waste from your packaging?
“Doing good” as a business can seem like a herculean task. The good news is if you take the time to integrate it across your business model – it can be fun, inspiring, and rewarding (financially and in a make your heart feel bigger kind of way).
This article has been edited.
Carissa MacLennan is a strategist for transformative good; helping businesses, philanthropists and non-profits achieve a higher return on their social and environmental change efforts. She has worked as a consultant, director, program designer, project manager, facilitator and frontline worker with some of the world’s leading organizations such as UNICEF, Journalists for Human Rights, the Munk School of Global Affairs, and the Jane Goodall Institute. Connect with @cjmaclennan on Twitter.
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