Growing your brand and getting more customers is no longer just about products, prices, and profits. For more than a decade, social entrepreneurship has been rapidly growing and giving customers an ethical alternative to pretty much anything you can buy.
It's given a new perspective to purchasing power and influencing a cause you care about. This has given customers a role in helping to solve issues they care about. As an entrepreneur, put thought into social issues you care about. Understanding your social impact is more important than ever to your brand and to your success.
How you treat your employees, where your products are made and your environmental impact play a big part of whether customers choose you or your competitors. Community impact and social responsibility are other big factors at play for companies.
That's why I chose to start my most recent company, Fownders, in Newark, NJ rather than New York City or Silicon Valley. Fownders is a learning ecosystem for entrepreneurs, built by entrepreneurs. Providing resources and mentorship within this city that's still building its innovation ecosystem allows for exponentially more impact than if we were to join the bandwagon of Silicon Alley or Silicon Valley.
Henry Ford once said, "The highest use of capital is not to make more money but to make money to do more betterment of life." More than just doing good, there are tangible effects to your business that make social impact a pivotal component of your strategy. Some of these benefits include: getting introductions to powerful individuals that care about the same issues, being seen in a different light by prospective customers, and building a culture of ride-or-die individuals that truly care about the mission, not just a paycheck.
Here are three ways to create social impact:
1. Find your purpose.
This past May, Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard to deliver the commencement speech and he chose to talk about purpose. He encouraged graduates, "Purpose is that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. That we are needed, that we have something better ahead to work for. Purpose is what creates true happiness."
It's not about looking out for your own interest. Pursue collective purpose and you'll go way farther.
2. Connect deeper with your customers.
No matter what your product or service is, we are all in the people business. If you want to garner loyalty, demonstrating that you care about what your customers care about is key.
Nearly a third of consumers will share on social media their support of ethical companies and more than half of consumers have stopped buying from companies they feel have unethical practices. Make it clear your brand aligns with your what your customers value and they will stick with you for the long run.
3. Extend your reach.
We are coming upon a golden age of social entrepreneurship. More young people than ever, who have had the fortune of success in business, are looking at the wider socio-economic horizon. This isn't about being trendy. This is where responsibility meets opportunity.
I hear young entrepreneurs often say, "I have all these ideas, where do I begin?" My advice is to start with one thing you do well and see how you can apply it to what you care about.
By including what you care about and aligning your brand with a bigger purpose, you differentiate your company from your competition and you connect on a deeper level with your customer. Use your craft to build your community and you'll create life-long customers who believe in what you do and the impact it has on our world.