Culture v bottom line – Your USP in business
Your purpose – is it life as an ethical entrepreneur?
As an entrepreneur, you can build the life you wish to lead. You can create a life as a business entrepreneur or a lifestyle entrepreneur.
Whatever your business, leading it as an entrepreneur is different to leading it as a business manager. Your business is inextricably linked to your personal goals. It reflects you, your hopes and desires, and how you think about your fellow human beings and the world around you.
As a lifestyle entrepreneur, of course you want to create income that satisfies your lifestyle desires. You want to travel the world? Thanks to technology, it’s possible to set up a digital business and work digital nomad jobs. You want to make a real difference to the world? Become an ethical entrepreneur, and let your culture, rather than your bottom line, be your USP (unique selling point).
“An ethical entrepreneur? What’s that?” I hear you ask.
Let me explain.
What is an ethical entrepreneur?
As an ethical entrepreneur, you will match your business values, purpose, and goals to your own personal values, purpose, and goals. You’ll design your business with a culture that focuses on its impact on society and the world around it. Here are a few examples:
- You may have a desire to help local businesses, and therefore source your products or raw materials from them.
- You may have strong green values. You decide to plant a tree for every 50 products you sell.
- You might be concerned about the quality of food we feed our children. You set up an organic-only food store.
- You may have a strong desire to help local charities, and so ‘gift’ your employees a day each month to do volunteer work or gift a proportion of your profits to those charities.
The point is that your strong personal values shine through in how you run your business. Your personal purpose permeates through every business decision you make. Your personal goals dictate your busines goals.
In short, you build a business culture that reflects you, and this is reflected by everything your business does. Your culture becomes your USP.
Ethics equal good business sense
I’ve been asked many times if ethics really matter in business. Let me tell you categorically that they do.
If you treat your staff poorly or sell substandard products because of your desire for profit, your customers know. And they’ll tell their friends and family. You’ll get black marks on social media. You’ll suffer from a disloyal customer base, and you’ll lose sales. Not good for business. Not good for profits. Disastrous for your lifestyle goals.
There are reams of research that show your potential customers care about what you do, and how you do it. For example:
What does all this mean? Loyal customers, who care less about price and more about your business ethics.
When your business values align with your personal values, and you then build a culture to support this, your company will appeal to likeminded customers. You’ll sell more. And that will support both your lifestyle and your purpose.
How do you build an ethical business?
If you’re just starting out in entrepreneurship, I have some excellent news for you. It’s way easier to develop positive business culture in a startup than it is to change an existing culture:
- You set your values and mission
- You employ people who resonate with what you are trying to achieve
- You develop business processes and policies that empower values such as transparency, equality, compassion, integrity, and accountability
- You decide upon your suppliers and contractors
It can be a struggle to alter all these things when they already exist, and when existing employees have their own set way of doing things.
When you are setting up a new business, you have a blank canvas on which to create your vision.
Here’s what I know
How do you start to build an ethical business that will provide the lifestyle you want and deliver your higher purpose?
Ethical entrepreneurship starts with you. Assess your personal values. Make sure that they are authentic – only genuine values are sustainable. Consider what it is that you feel most strongly about – the things you hold most dear, the actions that you wouldn’t change.
Only when you really understand what makes you tick can you then develop a framework in which your business can operate to achieve these goals.
Throughout your business, make sure that you are clear about your purpose. Be transparent in your business plan, to prospective employees, and in your marketing. If you donate 20% of all profits to local causes, be upfront about this. Use it as a selling point – a reason that people should buy from you.
As hard as it may be sometimes, don’t accept business opportunities that don’t align with your own principles. When building ethical entrepreneurship that has the power to deliver your desired lifestyle and your purpose, there is no room to compromise your values.
Let me tell you this. When your business delivers your superior purpose, there is no better feeling in the world.
To create a sustainable business, that business must come from deep within you. When was the last time you took a good look within yourself? What are your deep-seated, non-negotiable values? Do you have a purpose that goes beyond money? How can you make your business one where people want to be, rather than one that is simply ‘convenient’?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I love to hear what my readers are thinking.