Growing A Social Impact Business? Do These 5 Things

Growing a social impact business5

For over a decade now, I’ve been on a journey to figure out how the best social entrepreneurs have built businesses that make a dollar AND a difference.

I’ve interviewed over 100 world leading impact entrepreneurs for my podcast and along the way I found out 5 things that they ALL do to build successful companies.

So, if you’ve been trying to balance making a dollar with making a difference in your own business, read on to figure out the next steps you need to take. (EVEN IF you think you’ve tried everything and still haven’t made the impact you want…)

David Smith, Cotaxi

“Make your followers part of something larger than themselves.”

Cotopaxi produces and sells innovative outdoor products and experiences. Smith has said he created it in order to “fund sustainable poverty alleviation and move people to go good.” The company strives to realize this goal by, among other actions, providing targeted grants to nonprofits, having employees volunteer at local farms and helping to install irrigation pumps in Myanmar.

The key here is that you want to make your customers part of your COMMUNITY. They need to play an active role in the social change you’re working to create – do this and you’ll inspire brand loyalty like you wouldn’t believe.

Tyler Merrick, Project 7

“Make your product or service the star of the show and your cause the supporting actor.”

No cause, no amount of passion, and no amount of cash will make up for a product that sucks. Like any business, you must first create a product or service that is truly awesome.

That IN COMBINATION WITH a genuine and authentic social mission is the recipe for success.

Zac Holzapfel, Mission Belt Company

“Don’t be afraid to sell yourself. Remember, where there’s no margin, there can be no mission.”

Zac’s company, Mission Belt, produces “no-holes” belts and is disrupting the fashion accessory industry with its unique and innovative design. For each belt they sell, they give $1 to the microlending platform, Kiva.

They also aren’t afraid to sell the impact they’re making – even going head to head with the sharks on NBC’s hit TV show ‘Shark Tank’ to tell those sharks a thing or two about Social Entrepreneurship. (It worked apparently because they got some big funding from one of the sharks)

Btw, if you want to hear more about Zac’s story and check out my podcast interview with him, you can snag this free download ‘10 lessons from 10 world leading social impact entrepreneurs

Hayley Besheer, Madi Apparel

“Nurture your impact partnerships. They will be the key to your success.”

Most of us will partner with nonprofits along the way to help us carry out our social mission. Hayley has done an amazing job at partnering with domestic violence shelters who receive MADI’s underwear donations for every pair they sell.

Underwear is the most under donated item at shelters, so by filling this gap Hayley created a truly win-win partnership between her business and these nonprofits.

Hayley chats more about this in our podcast interview + a free guide we have entitled ‘10 lessons from 10 world leading social impact entrepreneurs

Growing a social impact business

Kyle Parsons, Indosole

“Build a community of customers.”

Kyle’s company, Indosole, which produces and sells a line of sandals and shoes made entirely of repurposed old tires, has achieved a great deal of visibility thanks in large part to its community of customers, who support and advocate the company’s quest to save one million tires from landfills.

Think often on this ‘community of customers’ idea. Ask yourself about the creative ways you can get your audience involved in social change. By doing this, you’ll inspire brand loyalty and social impact that will set you up for the long haul.

I get that the ‘balancing act’ between making a dollar AND a difference can sometimes seem too hard. But the recipe above is one that I’ve seen work across industries and for startups with little to no startup cash.

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