Do you recognise these moments, that your mind is drifting away, and you think about all the things that you could do to make this world a better place? If only you had the perfect idea. If only you had more time. If only you knew how to move it forward…
Stop beating around the bush. If you want to change the world, start a business!
Does this sound terrifying? Is this way out of your comfort zone? Are you not the stereotype entrepreneur? Good! Because this world does not need more stereotype entrepreneurs! This world needs fresh insights from people outside the business, with innovative, groundbreaking ideas. People with the heart in the right place who really want to make an impact and are willing to go the extra mile. This article will show you which 7 steps you have to take to launch your business for good.
STEP 1 – SELF REFLECTION
Before you start chasing wild ideas, start with 10 minutes of self reflection:
- Think of three moments in your life that you were most happy. When was it and why?
- What are you really good at?
- Ask your friends, spouse, family, colleagues what you are good at.
- What do you enjoy doing the most?
- If you look at your life now, what would you like to eliminate right away?
- What would happen if you would fill this space with something that would give you a purpose and would make you really happy?
Write down a list of things this could be. Make it a long list with at least 10 things but preferably 25 things you are reasonably good at and that would make you happy. From teaching, to coaching, to cooking, to surfing, to helping neighbours. Do not limit yourself to ideas that need to bring in money or that someone needs. Start with yourself as the center piece. The rest will follow.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.
(Quote: Ralph Waldo Emerson)
STEP 2 – WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS
Which problems in the world do you care about? Write down a list of causes, worries, problems or interests that you connect with. It can be anything: the local community center, rare bird species, illiteracy and the well being of children. Make it a long list with at least 10 things but preferably 25 things you care about.
Now bring both lists together. Where do they match? Helping neighbours links to the community center. Can you link teaching to rare bird species? Or link multiple things together: Cooking for neighbours at the community center, teaching children to read, write, cook, and surf. Or teaching people to stop running and connect again with themselves and their environment. To look around, watch the birds, go surfing and cook together. At this stage anything is possible.
STEP 3 – DEFINE WHAT YOU CAN BE PAID FOR
Take the connected ideas from step one and two and think about how you can be paid for these services. And who will be paying for it. Are people willing to pay for a day or a program that helps them to stop running and connect again with themselves and their environment?
Who is paying the teachers that teach kids how to read, write, surf and cook? Can you do this at a regular school? Are you willing to set up your own school? Or can you offer this in the form of training modules? For the cooking for neighbours idea, who will pay for it? Can you get subsidy from the government? Can you ask the people who can afford it, to pay for the people with less income?
There are many possibilities. Some with the potential of a successful business, some with the potential to create massive impact. It is up to you what you value most:
- Are you looking for a purpose and for fulfilment in your life?
- Do you want to find this in your work?
- Do you want to make a good living out of it?
You don’t have to answer these questions with a yes. You can be perfectly happy being a volunteer at the local community center and cook for the neighbours. But you can also decide to take it to the next level and partner up with an NGO that is doing this throughout the country and can help you scale your efforts. If your goal is to make a good living out of it, then you have to look for ideas with more commercial possibilities. It is your choice.
Be clear about the purpose of money. Money is like health. It is necessary for survival but it is not what you live for.
(Quote: Ernie J. Zelinski)
STEP 4 – CHOOSE YOUR BUSINESS MODEL FOR GOOD
Steve Jobs once said: “My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.” There are lots of business models for good, but most of them are not widely known. I cover two examples that fit the ideas mentioned above.
If you decide to cook for the community each week, find funding and grow your community service, then also look into the possibility of social franchising. If you have developed a great formula yourself and you want to grow your service to other communities you can scale your idea by means of social franchising. Social franchising looks a lot like regular franchising but the goal is not to increase revenue, but to scale your impact.
On the other hand, if you have just started cooking at the community center, you can also decide to become a franchisee and partner up with an origination that already has a proven track record of raising funds, has deals with supermarkets to pick up left over food and has a professional training program for volunteers. This would really help you to set up a professional and smooth organisation with impact in no time.
One for One
One for one is widely used. TOMS was one of the first to start with this concept. If you buy a pair of TOMS shoes, TOMS gives one pair to a child in need of shoes. Over the years they have developed this further, involving local shoe manufactures and adding eye care. If you buy one pair of glasses, TOMS helps restore sight to a person in need. They are now developing their business model further to one purchase one purpose. For every purchase you make, you support a local charity of your choice.
Another example of one for one is Pampers, who partnered with UNICEF in 2006 to eliminate tetanus. Anyone can get tetanus, but the disease is particularly common and serious in newborn babies and pregnant women. For every Pampers diaper or wipe product with a “One-Pack = One Vaccine” sticker, Pampers provided UNICEF with funding for one life-saving tetanus vaccine to protect a mother and her newborn in the developing world.
The one for one model can also be applied to the example in this article. If you would for example sell surf trainings to kids, you could think of sponsoring the education of one child in a developing country for one month.
STEP 5 – CHECK OUT YOUR TARGET MARKET
The first four steps have given you multiple business ideas. For each of these ideas we will now look into the target market. Who will buy your product or service? Who is willing to pay for it? What are the characteristics of these people?
Depending on your money goal, this step will most likely eliminate some of your business ideas. Go out and ask around what people think of your idea and how much they are willing to pay for it. Even better. Start testing it. The surf idea can be easily tested. Are the surfing lessons you offer just as good or better than the competition? If this is the case, your ‘one-for-one business model‘ might work. If your surf lessons are not as good as the competition, then it will not work out. Quality comes first, doing good comes after.
If you have found the perfect business idea that fits your personal work, life and money goals, then you dive deeper in this one idea.
STEP 6 – CREATE AND SHARE YOUR STORY
The first thing you do, is write your story. The following questions might help you to find some inspiration.
- Why did you start this business?
- Who are you doing this for?
- Why are you so attached to this cause?
The good thing about a business for good is that you do not have to make up a story. You write down your personal story in such a way that people will be attracted to it. People have to recognise themselves in your story. Connect on an emotional level. Explain how it made you feel. Explain the surroundings. Drag your audience into your story. If they care about the same cause, they will instantly feel a connection.
Next you share your story. Go back to everything you know about your target market. Where do they hang out? Where can you share your story with them? Social media gives many opportunities nowadays, but this can also give you the impressions you have to be everywhere. Select a few channels where you can reach your target market. Quality first, quantity second. It is for example better to be really visible on one channel every day, then on lots of channels only a once a month.
Look beyond social media channels. Social media channels are not your own. If Facebook decides to change their algorithm, you might reach way less people. This happened already and will most likely only get worse. So also build our own channels. Build for example an e-mail list and send your audience a weekly newsletter. Again quality first. If a weekly newsletter is not doable, start with a monthly newsletter. The more often you do it, the easier it will become.
Nobody likes to be sold to, but everyone loves a good story.
(Quote: Dave Kerpen)
STEP 7 – FAIL FAST
The last step is to get going. Just start! Try out the things that you think might work, based on the insights you gained from your target market. Check the statistics. You may have a lot of likes, but if no one buys your product, you are not there yet. Find out where the problem lies and try again. Keep trying. Do not give up. You can change anything. If it does not work, go back to your initial idea and see what needs to be fixed. Use the feedback and use all the new insights to take the next step. Building a business is not easy, but imagine how you will feel when you nail it and you are making massive impact and a great living simultaneously.
Are you ready to start?
I have created a free checklist for you to start a successful business with impact. If you tick off all the boxes, you have laid the perfect foundation for your business for good.