When was the last time you reflected on why you created your business? Do you remember why you chose this road? You had a vision for creating a better life and system for yourself, but perhaps you also recognized the opportunity to impact your community, society, or entire generation.
Just recently, during one of our BoominGroup team meetings we had the opportunity to reflect, and revisit our company vision. At our core, we believe that business can and should be a force for good.
We envision an economic system that fosters the well-being and happiness of people; a system in which knowledge–and the application thereof–is accessible, where resources are better allocated, and where responsibility for money and power is a merit that defines the success of business performance. We envision an economic system that upholds culture and honors nature, a system that’s built with sustainable structures in which giving back and paying forward flow freely without the need for incentives.
And most of all, we believe this shift can happen through business.
Redefining success in business
The advocacy for a better economic system is no longer just a Pollyanna assertion idealists make to protest against injustice in the present economy. Even if it all started somewhere near blind optimism, innovation and will have worked together to demonstrate that business is a force for good. Redefining success in business has grown beyond mere debates in academic circles which often trace the ills of the world to Capitalism and its inherent greed.
Redefining success in business is the language of today, to express age old inquiries about how we value each other and the world around us, and how we are to exchange and share our wealth and resources. The spotlight issue has shifted from “business responsibility” to “business as a proactive force for good”. Business leaders, owners, and entrepreneurs have truly begun to acknowledge their impact and role in the world and are committing themselves to standards that account for the environment, social impact, and human wellness.
Contrary to what we understand about the business environment, especially under today’s American leadership, we know there’s a larger movement undertaking the grand task of reconstructing how business is done. And we’re ecstatic to say that this time, we’re not the only ones hailing it. It’s not just us envisioning business as a force of good, it’s the likes of 2,064 other companies from 150 industries in 50 different countries–from large corporations to small Etsy vendors–who also hold the same virtue regarding the role of business.
In the short decade of its existence, B Lab has been leading the global movement known as B-Corp (short for Benefit Corporation) and has been sharpening its impact, creating legitimacy and systemic change so that business becomes the very mechanism for mandating change in the world. “B-Corp” is a new term for many, and the more I read about it, the more I become fascinated with the level of change that can happen when individuals, small businesses and large corporations challenge assumptions and take action.
B-corp is a new legal business entity that expands the purpose of business beyond shareholder profit. It uses metrics that consider social and environmental performance to measure business success.
No longer shall we sit here in wishful thinking; business success is being redefined today.
Business is a force for good
In a recent open letter, the B Lab founders addressed and urged business leaders worldwide to shift the business mindset:
Your Business Should be a Force for Good.
Additionally, you get an idea of the B-Corps commitment in its Declaration of Interdependence:
Your business has the power to make the change you want to see in the world.
What’s interesting to observe in the B Lab address and B Corps declaration is the level of responsibility each business owner/leader must be willing to take to forge a new economic system. As small business owners and entrepreneurs, we feel powerless within the scope of the economy, much less be able to create a dent in the system. We often feel that our business is just an alternative, modest solution to having to work for “the man”; a way to escape the corporate 9 to 5.
What we often miss when building our business is that there exists a particular, legitimate approach to business development that takes your deepest values and uses that information to form the structure of your business in the same way DNA creates the structure of every living form.
Further, we can all recognize the declaration as a semblance of a paraphrased quote that’s often attributed to Ghandi:
Be the change you want to see in the world.
But if you take a more nuanced look at the full text of what Ghandi said, it was more than just a call for leadership and accountability. His text emphasizes that any transformation, whether social or economic, requires inner work–how we perceive our understanding of the world, and the ongoing inner work we must do so then it becomes the legitimized understanding of the world, whether it relates to our perception of value leading to more inclusion and equity, or our relationship to business itself.
We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him . . . We need not wait to see what others do.
– Mahatma Gandhi
Forging a new economic system doesn’t start nor stop at any one activity. The development of sustainable products, the fight for inclusion, or the advocacy for better allocation of resources are efforts that are deeply rooted in the values of humankind, and it requires a complete shift in mindset and the simultaneous effort from all sides. When you reflect on why you created your business, where do you see your impact?
Capturing that force of good that business can and should create is all about careful business development–one that accounts for your deepest values, then spreading that model until it affects or becomes that “new economic system” we all so crave.