Did you like my little Shrove Tuesday reference there – pancakes, flipping…?
OK, so puns aside to day I wanted to share with you all what it is about ethical businesses and environmental entrepreneurs that sets them apart from ‘normal ones’.
I was pondering this the other day when I was thinking about the kinds of things that lots of solopreneurs struggle with – time management, overwhelm, fear of failure, fear of success, getting noticed, getting sales, generating revenue etc etc. And it made me think about what it is that makes an ethical business or enterprise different. We still struggle with those exact same things, so why is running an ethical business any different?
And the answer is “It isn’t”.
And also “It is”.
It isn’t because I think as human beings we all face the same challenges of time, and fear, and putting ourselves out there. And as creative people (as many entrepreneurs are) it can be all to easy to have all the ideas, and to get overwhelmed.
But there are a few key differences.
1) Ethical businesses start with Why.
I am a massive fan of ‘Why’ – not in the annoying way of a three year old child (although persistently asking ourselves ‘Why’ can be a really good way to get clear on our values and the things that really matter to us!) – but because as ethical or environmental entrepreneurs, our ‘Why’ is core to our business.
We have a passion and a purpose beyond making money – we want to make a difference and in our own way, create a better world.
Knowing why we are doing what we are doing, being really clear about the things that matter to us and the difference we are trying to make is hugely important. If we aren’t chasing the money (or aren’t just chasing the money), then money is not such a motivator for us. It’s important and we need it for our businesses to be viable, but we often have different measures of success – the impact our business has on others, the difference we make. These things can be harder to measure and for other people to appreciate, so the clearer we can be, the easier it is for us to stay motivated.
2) Ethical businesses have a different bottom line.
Or actually multiple bottom lines.
In a traditional business, ‘the bottom line’ refers to profit, plain and simple. Will this idea/product/course make us money?
In a ‘conscious business’ we think about something that the experts call a ‘triple bottom line’ – we think about the potential of our ideas/products/courses for making profit for sure, but we also think about the impact it will have on people and planet too.
So how will it affect anyone who works with/for us? What will it’s impact be on our local community? What effect will our idea/product/course have on the planet?
Which brings me neatly on to number 3.
3) Ethical businesses need to be truly ‘sustainable’.
Traditionally when people have talked about businesses and ideas being ‘sustainable’ it has been in terms of financial sustainability – is this something that will survive over the long-term? Is it ‘scalable’? Ultimately, will it consistently make us money?
But for businesses that are looking beyond the financial bottom line, a sustainable business means so much more.
Yes it means a business that is financially viable, but it also means a business that is sustainable in terms of the impact it has on the planet.
So the petrochemical industry is not sustainable. In fact, many of your traditional businesses are not sustainable as they rely on a linear business model where something is made, sold, used and then thrown away. They rely on a continuous cycle of consumption that is in itself not sustainable on a planet that is running out of resources.
So an ethical business will be thinking about the impact of it’s products on the environment at every stage, from production, to transport, to packaging, and many are choosing to adopt a ‘circular’ model – where products are designed with re-use and repair in mind.
Now if terms like ‘triple bottom line’ and ‘circular economy’ have you reaching for the sharpened ethically sourced pencils to start stabbing your own eyes out, then rest assured you are not alone!
Ultimately, I want to make a difference. I want to change the world and empower other people to create positive change too. I don’t really care whether my business has a bottom line, let alone three of them. Technical business terms make me start to glaze over. So you might wonder why I’ve written this.
I’ve written this post because I think it’s important that as passionate as we are as entrepreneurs and changemakers, that we understand the things that will make our business work. And that we understand the things that set our businesses apart from others – the value that we are adding when we create a really ‘good business’.
We have a value above and beyond the monetary, and it’s vital that we can recognise that AND communicate it effectively to the rest of the world.
So what’s your added value?
What are you putting out into the world? What difference are you making?
I love hearing about the things that people are doing, so do let me know what you’re up to, and how you’re flipping the world on it’s head and creating positive change this Pancake Day 🙂