Indigenous Tourism Start Up Program

Entrepreneurs: how to know your startup will be founded on purpose

I’ve had the pleasure of working with a range of new entrepreneurs over the course of the last five years, and each year it gets more and more exciting. What is becoming clear for me is that the conversation around starting a business inspired by a higher purpose is no longer a foreign concept. If anything, the ideas we discuss and the lessons we teach get the entrepreneurs fired up and even more determined to get their business ideas launched.

When Seeds Consulting was conceived over a decade ago, there wasn’t a lot of talk about conscious or purpose-driven business. Social ventures were perceived as only  businesses in far-away places around the world dealing with third world problems. Replacing a typical profit-driven business model with one that put purpose before profits was a tough business case to sell around the board table.

Now, there’s ample evidence that shows that “doing well by doing good” makes perfect business sense, and is in fact, an approach that will create solid businesses that have the ability to stand the test of time.

What is a purpose-driven business?

The definition I always share comes from the book Conscious Capitalism: Purpose refers to the difference you’re trying to make in the world.

Purpose plays a big role into building strong brands and marketing them in a meaningful way.  From Seth Godin’s latest read, This is Marketing, he proposes that “Modern marketing is doing work that MATTERS for people WHO CARE”.  In Terry O’Reilly’s book This I know: Marketing Lessons from Under the Influencehe shares that the purpose of a company is likely found at that moment where the founder slammed his/her hand down on the table and declared …”there has to be a better way! In that moment is the best distillation of your why“.

Modern marketing is doing work that MATTERS for people WHO CARE
Seth Godin

Getting the the core

So how would you know if you’re building a purpose-driven business? In my experience, it comes from standing up, and boldly sharing your purpose through a brand story to see how it resonates with people. A short and compelling brand story starts with the background on why you were so fired up you ‘slammed your fist on the table’, followed by what you’re doing about it now and sharing your bold vision for the future.  With a recent cohort of entrepreneurs, when they stepped up to share their brand stories in the classroom, there were tears and there were moments when we all got choked up just talking about the inspiration behind their ventures.

These days, people are far more interested in why you are in the business you’re in and less motivated by the how and the what you’re offering. The more confidently you can share your original motivation for starting a business – that core purpose that gets you out of bed and motivated each day as an entrepreneur – the more more likely you’ll grow a business that matters for people who really do care about it.

FINDING INSPIRATION

If you have a idea for a business that you keep on the back burner simmering, learning from others and their motivations is a sure way to get your ideas in motion.

Start up pitch eventIn Whistler this week, a cohort of entrepreneurs will be pitching their business ideas for a chance to win start up seed funding. The businesses are related to authentic Indigenous tourism experiences and are rooted in a purpose that’s way beyond the bottom line.

Event Details: slcc.ca/events

Take a look at these resources to learn more about using business as a force for good:

bcorporation.net

bthechange.com

Helping business become a force for good

Harness the difference you want to make in the world

Want to create a marketing buzz? Link profits to purpose.

Social-Venture-Challenge-Participants-small-1080x675

Doing Good Through Business

Social entrepreneurs create impact beyond the bottom line

Sharing economy, food security, social impact, community building, climate resilience – these are topics that I’ve seen trending in my network and into daily conversations. I learned from a visionary, risk-taking entrepreneur that when he heard people talk about a trend at least three times, he had to act on it. Are you an aspiring entrepreneur based in the Sea to Sky who is looking for a way to seize a trend and turn it into a business opportunity? Then attend the 2016 Social Venture Challenge kick off event in Whistler: Doing Good Through Business on Friday, March 18.

The essence of the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Social Venture Challenge is to get business ideas off the ground, particularly those that provide solutions to social and environmental challenges unique to the Sea to Sky corridor. The Canadian Social Entrepreneurship Foundation describes what sets these ventures apart: “Whereas a business entrepreneur typically measures performance in profit and return, a social entrepreneur focuses on creating social capital. Thus, the main aim of social entrepreneurship is to further social and environmental goals.”

Why are a growing number of entrepreneurs looking to create social ventures? There is plenty of evidence toward the shift in attitudes toward traditional, pure-capitalism based reasons for starting businesses. In the 2015 Cone Communications Millennial CSR Study, the most comprehensive snapshot of how Millennials engage with Corporate Social Responsibility efforts in the U.S., revealed more than nine-in-10 Millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average). The research also showed that 80% of young workers want to work for a company that cares about how it impacts and contributes to society. They also are willing to take less compensation in exchange for greater meaning in their work.

Investments for start-ups and supporting growing businesses to scale up is also shifting. With a huge spike in the amount of crowdfunding capital in North America, along with new hybrid capital organizations and social impact bonds, this trend is likely to change the playing field in favour of social ventures over the three to five years, according to social finance experts writing for the Harvard Business Review.

Social Venture Challenge 2016

In British Columbia’s Sea to Sky corridor, the Social Venture Challenge is an opportunity for social entrepreneurs to encourage, support and grow new social ventures in the region. This Friday’s session will feature talk from Vancity’s Community Foundation, the Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild, Clean Start and Gibson-based Persephone Brewing Co., a Certified B-Corporation. The full day includes an Ideas Jam, Angel Den case study (where I’ll be part of a panel to help social ventures grow), plus lunch + beer tasting, and more. Tickets are still available but going fast.

Following the full-day session, budding social entrepreneurs can submit a one-page application by March 31 to participate in the 2016 Social Venture Challenge. The shortlisted entrepreneurs will learn how to flush out business ideas, get mentorship from experts in their field and receive coaching on how to pitch their venture idea to potential investors.

The final pitch in the Social Venture Challenge will be organized as a fun, fast-paced Dragons’ Den style event where participants will pitch their burgeoning business ideas to a panel of judges who will be award the winning social venture with $5,000 start up cash, courtesy of Squamish Savings. Learn more at www.whistlercentre.ca

The entrepreneur’s journey is never an easy one. Embedding a social or environmental problem in the business model is even more challenging. Being able to tell the story of that journey and how the business can make a difference in the world is often the best way to market the brand and build your tribe. Need some help packaging that story to share with the world? Contact me to get started. I love working with purpose-driven brands that are ready to build a movement.

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BEYOND BOOTSTRAPPING: ENTREPRENEURIAL LESSONS FOR LAUNCHING AND REACHING NEW HEIGHTS

Leveraging The power of partners and mentors

Launching an enterprise and getting it off the ground is a great accomplishment. Laying a foundation to grow or become a market leader is the next step. Owners often get side-swiped with operational tasks and day-to-day challenges, and by year-end, the plan for next year or the road ahead might be an afterthought. Once a business is off the ground, almost every entrepreneur is faced with a crossroad. When you’re stuck and don’t know which path is the way forward, outside advice and mentorship can break down barriers and offer clarity.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the cornerstone of the Canadian economy. Those SMEs that are successful have a few things in common according to a BDC study of small business. The top three predictors of success: innovate, ask for outside advice and have a plan to measure your progress.

Top 3 predictors of SME success: innovate, ask for outside advice, have a plan to measure progress @BDC_News Click To Tweet

At the next Whistler Open Forum during Small Business Week, hear personal stories of how partnerships helped local business owners dream bigger, aim higher and accomplish more than they ever thought was possible.

Get inspiration from our panel of entrepreneurs who have leveraged partnerships and investment to gain recognition, create opportunities and achieve excellence in their industries.

After this event, walk away with practical ideas and tips to:

  • Attract the right partners to move forward and achieve business objectives;
  • Harvest your potential through mentorship on best practices, shared knowledge and meaningful connections;
  • Better understand options for financial support, whether through traditional institutions or alternative investors.

Join Seeds Consulting, Lighthouse Visionary Strategies and Local Whistler as we get the inside track on the power of partnerships, mentoring and investment from these Whistler-based business owners:

The panel will share their lessons learned from opening a new flotation therapy experience in Whistler, launching a juice bar that is expanding through with franchisees, and advancing growth of a gift-giving app through a unique crowdfunding model.

Over the past five years, the Open Forum Speaker Series has offered the business community something a little different. Our mission is to offer intimate, compelling and authentic events that inspire, support and connect entrepreneurs. Every entrepreneurial leader who attends walks away with tangible tools they can apply to their business venture. These tools don’t just sit on the corner of someone’s desk since Open Forum events are enhanced with meaningful connections and networking opportunities to create support and build confidence propel their business forward.

Space is limited so reserve your seat today!

Date/Time:  Wednesday, October 21 / 5:30 to 8:00 p.m.

Location:  Nita Lake Lodge Library

Tickets: Don’t miss out. Click here to purchase.