When you raise a child, it is fair to say that a majority of a parent’s focus is on the short-term strategy. Making sure your child is fed, bathed, and their daily needs are met so that your little person can be happy and healthy in their day-to-day-life. We know these things are important.
To shape humans who will one day go out into the world to become independent, successful, and functioning members of society, we have to think beyond the short-term to longer-term investments. Examples of these investments are: teaching good behavior, investments in education and in opportunities that give children a broader view of the world. What would happen to our children – to society – if we did not think about the bigger picture?
I think the same can be said about business. If a business’s civic duty is to ultimately serve society, shouldn’t CEO’s also have a long-term focus with business? What happens to our world if businesses are not concerned about the resources they are consuming, if they do not put the wellbeing of their employees first, or are concerned with the impact they are making in their community and the world? Unfortunately, what we see too much in big business is short-term thinking. For many publicly held businesses, the leadership has become only focused on serving shareholders and making quarterly profits. Under this model, CEOs don’t often stay at the top very long. While CEOs may gain short-term, what is lost is big picture thinking and they leave behind only hope a company will benefit over time. My thought process here has been inspired by observance, working with small business owners, and an article I read recently in The Atlantic “How To Stop Short-Term Thinking At America’s Companies” and I couldn’t agree more.
My passion is to focus on helping grow small businesses and people who are not afraid to think independently and bring new ideas to the table. I want to support a new business model where businesses can thrive when they apply long-term thinking and where they think about how they can benefit communities to help create jobs, rather than make the prime focus their personal investments. Companies who think longer term are more responsible in studying the impact of development and are careful about preservation. I call it business with a conscience – business practices that work to better society, that focus on people, and not destroying the environment.
I am part of a community here in Newport, RI that has started the conversation about what type of businesses and industry they want to attract as this island develops. The taxpayers are coming together to think collectively about the impact of types of businesses will have on population growth, job growth, traffic flow, and repurposing old buildings sitting vacant. It is an interesting conversation as there is just as much concern from the community about the environmental and social impact as much as economic impact. Locals want to protect what is valuable here – the natural environment and historic architecture – so that we can leave Newport a shining example of a modern city for the next generation.
There is a desire within our communities to support and build businesses with consciences. So how do we do that?
How To Build A Business With A Conscience
- Focus on people. While money is a key driver of prosperity and growth, one cannot build a company alone. Without the right team of people and the right clients, a business fails. It is a proven fact that companies that put people and clients first, not only are more resistant to change, but they also are more viable than companies driven by short-term profits or making money for shareholders.
Write a company mission that has a purpose beyond making money. How will your business work to impact the community and world around you? This will force you to think beyond profits and give you focus beyond the downturns all businesses face at one point or time when they suffer the loss of a client or a slow month in sales.
- Assemble your team around this mission. If everyone does not share the same mission, then it is easy for conflict to arise amongst team members.
- Make marketing plans and partnerships that have social impact. There are some really great examples of companies who incorporate community into their business projects and plans. MailChimp not only donates some of its profits to help nonprofits in its hometown of Atlanta, but their marketing team also teamed with nonprofit to develop a product to sell for an e-commerce project that helped their marketing team learn more about e-commerce. My Emma started planting one new tree for every new client back in 2007. Then in 2009, they planted five trees to every new client. Since then they have brought 53,000 trees into the world and their outreach has definitely grown. There are tons of other examples including companies that invest in community wellness. Really amazing, isn’t it?
- Think before you buy. Look at ways you can make your business more environmentally friendly. Hire service providers and buy supplies, decor, and furniture for your business from other companies who share a collective vision to make the world better. Try buying repurposed or recycled. Look at service providers like Google who plan to run 100% on renewable energy in 2017.
- Companies that have family friendly policies are front runners. They not only retain happy employees, but those employees are more willing to work harder and smarter if they are not burned out or feel supported.