"Better a little well done than a great deal imperfectly," said Plato, the famous Greek philosopher. In other words, how you do something is often more important than how much you do .

Our modern world falsely defines productivity as being busy. But in business, it's more crucial to be effective (than to spin one's wheels). Especially when failure rates for startups are so high.

LA Society CEO and cofounder Frank Horowitz has discovered an interesting formula for resonating with socially-aware Millennials and Generation Z who live active lifestyles. Originally from Los Angeles, Horowitz started the budding leisurewear brand from his NYU dorm with co-founder Kohl Donovan. (Both played hockey at New York University.)

1. Make an impact by acting on it

Fashion retail is brutally competitive. But LA Society is successfully carving a niche by aligning with contemporary culture: It sells athleisure attire that blurs the line of work, gym, and play.

The venture shows that being effective means adapting to the times.

The company's culture also exudes social responsibility , which is turning out to be an effective game plan in a saturated and noisy marketplace. The e-tailer donates $15 to a worthy cause for each purchase over $150. (The customer can choose which foundation to support.)

There are other ways to spend the $15: Facebook ads, billboard signs, lower prices. But Frank Horowitz says there's more to entrepreneurial success than repeating what everyone else is doing.

"More consumers are taking notice of the sourcing and sustainability of products," says Horowitz. "We do it as a way to give back. Brands that cater to a sensitive audience will find that connection."

2. Consumers favor authentic companies over imposters

In ancient Greek, another word for imposter is "enchanter." Enchanters entice customers with flash. But bells and whistles don't allow people to embed the brand (and its lifestyle) into their DNA.

Consumers are increasingly favoring companies whose mission is aligned with non-profit causes.

"Consumer awareness of the environmental and ethical footprint of their purchases is on the rise, including digital purchases and the 'real or hidden' impacts and cost of eCommerce - and consumerism in general," according to Absolunet, an e-commerce agency. Therefore, it helps to gain customer loyalty by having responsible practices.

LA Society offers a range of high-quality SKUs that make it inclusive of all types of women. Packaging is also 100% compostable and environment-friendly .

"You have to find an opportunity in the market and pursue it with a passion," says Horowitz. "Profitability and responsibility can go hand-in-hand."

3. What you're selling is a socially-aware athleisure lifestyle. Not individual SKUs

Fashion brands are ingrained in today's social media, where popular posts get thousands of shares. But what makes an image go viral is not specific merchandise -- it's the lifestyle that the product promotes.

Horowitz advises other entrepreneurs to pivot quickly when customers talk. "Customers may not say anything, but they speak through their wallets. And you listen with the cash register."

It's all about testing processes, branding, products, prices -- and seeing what works. A business becomes resilient when it finds a better way of doing things. Therefore, it's not just about throughput; it's about driving impact.

Chinese philosopher Confucius emphasized continuous progress towards a goal rather than the pace of work. It shows how small business owners can benefit from having a longer view of productivity, instead of seeing it as a daily measuring stick.

Aug 1, 2019