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Make your small business a Yoda-like force for good

Written by: Anna Jones, Entrepreneurship Director -Virgin Unite

It’s tough for entrepreneurs to think about social and environment impact when it isn’t tracked against the bottom line. When faced with trying to get a business off the ground, thinking about people and planet seems like a hassle when it’s hard enough balancing the books.

Yet, the world needs entrepreneurs to be a force for good. Let’s think about Yoda for a moment. He was tiny and green but totally kickass at being a force for good and keeping the dark side in its place. We need small businesses to become like Yoda. Before you point out that you don’t have a shiny lightsaber, I’ve three simple ways you can rethink your business model and join the rebellion:

  1. Money – We know it’s tough to think about giving away when you are starting up. Consider giving away some of your profits to a local cause or business by saving 10p for every £100 you make. Keep topping up a jar by the front door and although it seems a small contribution, if we all do this then the trickle down effect soon has a big impact on lives. Successful entrepreneurs like Ella’s Kitchen, LUSH and One Hope Wine all use this model.  Find out what the need is near you.
  2. Stuff – Utilise the giveaway model. You don’t need to offer like-for-like, it just has to be serviceable for the person in need. Everyone talks about how TOMS gives away shoes for each pair bought so think how you could do the same. For example, washing machines retailers could offer to take away old ones and deliver them to a local charity furnishing homes for those in need.  
  3. Time – Don’t underestimate the value of your time and using it to send the elevator back down as you become more successful. You can use it to bring on the next generation or mentor an entrepreneur in the idea stage. Can your team volunteer for a day at a local charity? One company I met at WATF told me they were going to give away an evening of coding coaching a month to local start ups, car dealership Peter Vardy have each of their employees work Day One at a local charity.

With all the distractions of running a start-up, why should busy entrepreneurs bother with all this? Quite simply, thinking about people and planet now will help future proof your business. As Lars Rebien Sørensen, CEO of the Danish pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk and Harvard Business Reviews’ number one CEO for 2015,says: “In the long term, social and environmental issues become financial issues.”

Now it’s over to you to be like Yoda and join the many entrepreneurs doing the same. For inspiration, just take a look at some of the entrepreneurs we work with! If you do decide to join the rebellion and take up one of these tips, I’d love to hear from you so find me on Twitter.

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