Many companies today are proving that there is more to business success than just the bottom line.
The concept of conscious business isn’t new. Many attribute the movement’s beginnings to 1976 when British entrepreneur Anita Roddick started cosmetics company The Body Shop, but the trend toward focusing on awareness, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability is continually growing.
One of the most well-known conscious businesses today is TOMS Shoes, founded by Blake Mycoskie in 2006, operating on the “one for one” model, helping a person in need with every product purchased. TOMS has provided more than 10 million pairs of shoes to children, and TOMS Eyewear has restored sight to more than 175,000 since launching in 2011. This year, TOMS Roasting Company was founded with the mission to provide clean water to developing communities with the purchase of premium coffee.
I am constantly inspired to give back with my businesses, most recently by building schools in partnership with my friend Adam Braun’s organization Pencils of Promise.
Below are five ways you can bring your business into alignment with your values, creating a better world while making a profit. I know that is the kind of bottom line I want to see.
1. Make it matter
Blake Mycoskie’s bestselling book, Start Something That Matters, is a great source of inspiration about the power of incorporating giving in business. He references other companies and individuals who have been motivated and inspired to integrate philanthropy into their profession as well as their personal lives.
More importantly, it is Blake's hope that Start Something That Matters inspires others to turn their passion and dreams into a reality.
2. Do no harm
“Do no harm” is an ethical guidepost for a conscious business. We can create a code of ethics of our own, a mission and vision to return to and hold ourselves to when we get off track or tempted to get caught up in the P&L.
Be sure to make decisions with the awareness of their ripple effects in the world. Love is the real bottom line when you are building your business to change the world and make a difference.
3. Care about people
A conscious business cares. We care about our employees and stakeholders, we use fair trade materials, we assist the communities who are supplying and manufacturing materials. We treat people the way we want to be treated, and look for the win-win in every situation.
4. Be a good steward (of the planet)
As far as we know, we only have this one Earth and we get to be responsible stewards before we ruin it. As a conscious business owner, we can set up our infrastructure to include green business practices that include recycling, utilizing reusable energy, purchasing renewables, and so much more. You can even become certified as a green business by Green America.
Profit is last but not least on this list, not because we don’t think or care about profit, but because we believe that when we focus foremost on giving and making a difference as well as the bottom, we will end up with a heart-centered business that aligns with our values, maintains integrity, and generates revenue.
You as an entrepreneur have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your clients, employees, and communities by staying in touch with your heart and values, no matter how successful you become.