B Corporation Community

Helping business become a force for good

By Michelle Ratcliffe

Make business easy – tune in to The Big Idea, a bi-weekly column from the Whistler Chamber showcasing a Whistler Business innovating in their sector.

It’s commonplace for the bottom line to define business success, but there is a growing global network of over 2,000 Certified B Corporations leading a movement to redefine success. These B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. 

Whistler’s Seeds Consulting is part of this global movement and Principal, Diana Mulvey believes that a healthy profit can be achieved parallel to progress for the planet and people. 

Mulvey has built a business that takes action on social and environmental issues. Working with companies that aim to do good for humanity and for the planet, her business helps growing enterprises define the difference they are trying to make in the world and market themselves, creating an inspiring identity that stands out. 

She believes that while already sitting at an impressive height, Whistler businesses have the opportunity to elevate their impact on the world.

“Whistler’s business community could be known not only as the best IN the world, but the best FOR the world,” said Mulvey. “I’m helping mobilize business owners to be a force for good and tackle social and environmental challenges in their industry.”

Planting Seeds with Purpose

As any gardener knows, even with seeds in hand, your work still requires a little digging before you can plant and nurture growth.  Seeds Consulting’s strategy starts with digging deep to find a client’s highest mandate.

“I’ve been helping clients uncover their higher purpose and get clear on why they are in that business,” explained Mulvey who says she shares the philosophy of author and corporate culture thought leader Simon Sinek, who teaches organizations how to inspire people by starting with “Why.”

“I Share Simon Sinek’s belief that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” said Mulvey.

Once the “why” is clear, she can set sights sky high and map out the route to lift her client’s entrepreneurial ambitions to great heights. Clarity on a clients purpose empowers them to create an identity that rises above the noise, attracting the right customers and building brand loyalty.

Events Inspiring Action

Mulvey is a key fixture in the entrepreneurial community in Whistler – an inspiring group of innovative minds.

Her respected perspectives have led to collaborations with likeminded organizations and created events aimed at inspiring entrepreneurs to do good for their community.

“I’ve spoken at and introduced events in Whistler that encourage entrepreneurs to learn about and take on environmental and social problems,” she said.

In the last year alone, her hands-on help has seen her teach workshops for the Whistler Centre for Sustainability’s Social Venture Challenge, present on “how putting employees first boosts your brand” and at the Whistler Open Forum Speaker Series and collaborate with the Business Development Bank of Canada to bring a screening of “The Millennial Dream” documentary to Whistler accompanied by empowering discussion around different kinds of success in the new economy.

Confronting the Status Quo

In addition to speaking up with new ideas entrepreneurial events, Seeds Consulting connects with and empowers with their market online. The thought leadership exemplified by Mulvey on the Seeds Consulting blog offers an inspiring a dialogue for change, contributing valuable knowledge and resources to her community.

“I’m and avid blogger,” said Mulvey. “I use this platform to share ideas, confront the status quo, introduce best practices and build the business case to tackle social and environmental problems.”

Mulvey’s leadership is being felt throughout the resort where the number of businesses who are embedding social causes into their strategy is snowballing and her impact was recognized earlier this month, with Seeds Consulting honoured as a Finalist for “Sustainability in Action Business” at the 2017 Whistler Excellence Awards. Mulvey is helping shape a thriving local economy, from inspiring startup social ventures in their infancy to helping established organizations redefine an inspired brand identity. 

“Companies that are better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment will lead the way and raise the bar for business success beyond the bottom line”

“Companies that are better for workers, better for communities, and better for the environment will lead the way and raise the bar for business success beyond the bottom line,” said Mulvey.  “I believe Whistler business owners have an opportunity to take on social and environmental problems and be recognized around the globe as being the best for the world.”

Bike to Work

November 22 event: The New Economy Will Be Driven by a Millennial Mindset

Could your business do well by doing good?

Decades ago, the concept of The American Dream was to study, work hard get a job, buy a house, pay off your debt and build wealth. Not only would many agree that this was a lie,  a whole generation of our workforce just do not buy into it as their dream. “The Millennial Dream” is a feature length documentary that explores the values that may replace the cultural motif known as The American Dream.

As the Millennial generation becomes the most significant portion of the workforce, what will change about what we want from our education and jobs, what kinds of companies will succeed in the new economy? And with values and lifestyles shifting, what kinds of communities will be desired and what can cities and regions do to attract this new economy? The filmmaker’s interviews with experts such as best selling author Seth Godin and the personal reflections of young workers stir debate and encourage a dialogue around what might emerge as the Millennial Dream.

On November 22 BDC, Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, will showcase The Millennial Dream documentary in Whistler followed by an empowering discussion on what kinds of companies will succeed in the new economy.

If the Millennial Dream is about doing well by doing good, how do business owners need to adapt?  

Some business owners may be struggling with the belief that Millennial workers are not as loyal as previous generations. But evidence shows they will work harder and be more committed if they believe in the higher purpose of the organization. In fact, according to a Deloitte survey of over 7,700 Millennials from 29 countries, Millennials are more likely to stick with an organization if they share its sense of purpose.

During an interview with filmmaker Greg Hemmings, he mentioned a focus on relevancy as the biggest opportunity for business to seize the Millennial dream. Traditional institutions stuck in their ways are being sideswiped by companies like Uber and airbnb that are crowdsourcing solutions to systemic problems, effectively disrupting entire categories in their industries. Further, these companies lead with their values, openly sharing stories about their impact in the world.

If the Millennial Dream is about doing well by doing good, how do business owners adapt? #BCorp Click To Tweet

At the film screening in Whistler, business owners can learn how they need to adapt and aim to do well by doing good. After the film, examples of how business can be used as a force for good will be shared through a panel discussion with Greg Hemmings from New Brunswick-based ‪Hemmings House, along with Whistler-based Leah Garrad-Cle from ‪Love Child Organics and Diana Mulvey from Seeds Consulting.  The evening will wrap up with a chance to continue the conversation while mixing and mingling with entrepreneurs and representatives from BDC.

The Millennial Dream Documentary Film Screening in Whistler

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
5:00 p.m. Networking, Appitizers, Drinks
5:50 p.m. Introduction
6:00 p.m. The Millennial Dream
6:45 p.m. Panel Discussion moderated by Carla Heim, Senior Advisor Social Entrepreneurship at BDC
7:15 p.m. Networking (cash bar)

       Click here to reserve your seat today!    

View the Trailer

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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.

B SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS

Creating impact beyond the bottom line

Social EntrepreneurshipA growing number of entrepreneurs are starting ventures designed to create a positive social impact. They are looking for authentic ways for their businesses to become the best for the world, not just the best in the world. These are for-profit enterprises that solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, often with a relatively simple solution. It’s a movement that’s worth watching in your own community and across the world.

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. After submitting a one-page application, shortlisted entrepreneurs learned how to flush out business ideas, were mentored from experts in their field and were coached how to pitch their venture idea.

Around the world, businesses are not only looking for bottom line financial success, but bigger picture impact. A study at the recent New Metrics Conference hosted by Sustainable Brands revealed six types of capital that can drive the success (or failure) of a business: Financial, Physical, Social, Intellectual, Human and Natural. If any one of these areas is weak (e.g. high turnover at a company that does not invest in its human capital), the whole enterprise can suffer.

Big banks, investors and global brands are also paying attention to the social venture movement. Speaking at the World Economic Forum this year, Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, stated that

“Social entrepreneurs are role models, not only for young entrepreneurs, but, more importantly, for businesses like us. We can’t address in our business model many important societal issues if we don’t link up firmly with the creativity and passion and purpose-driven models of social entrepreneurs.”

More and more, we’re seeing that a company’s higher purpose is what gets people fired up to become loyal advocates for certain brands. This is evident not only for core customers, but a growing workforce that is looking for more than a paycheque. Research conducted by the Cone Millennial Cause group 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.

young workers willing to take less compensation in exchange for greater meaning in their work Click To Tweet

But passion and purpose are just some of the many elements that make up a successful venture. As a judge at a recent ‘Angel Den’ for the Social Venture Challenge in Whistler, I was able to help the cohort test their plan and perfect their pitch. Their enthusiasm makes it easy to love these ideas, but the business fundamentals surrounding the value proposition, revenue model and marketing approach are all essential to build a sound foundation and platform for a successful launch.

Their big event, the final pitch in the challenge, is coming up September 30 in Whistler. It’s being organized as a fun, fast-paced Dragons’ Den style event where participants in The Social Venture Challenge will pitch their burgeoning business ideas. Judges will be awarding the winning social venture with $3,000 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 us to get started. We love working with purpose-driven brands that are ready to build a movement.

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WANT TO CREATE A MARKETING BUZZ? LINK PROFITS TO PURPOSE.

How social ventures can build a movement

According to Social Enterprise Canada, social enterprises are businesses that create positive community impacts and social value. They do not have a distribution of profits and assets to individuals or shareholders. These are companies that want to be the best for the world; businesses that have a positive impact on society or the environment, where their bottom line is a combination of financial return and a social return on investment. But how can social ventures stand out from the competition and stay relevant? With effective marketing to the right audience, they can build a movement with momentum to grow.

A wave of new entrepreneurs are creating a flood of awesome, buzz-worthy businesses. Social ventures designed around sustainable food systems, knowledge sharing, waste minimization, affordable housing and sustainable transportation which may have been niche co-operative models back in the day are now becoming mainstream.

These entrepreneurs are evolving traditional modes of capitalism where the only purpose was to make profit for shareholders. In the world of social ventures, the stakeholders might include community members, collaborative partners, cooperative suppliers, and investors; a more holistic group who all have a stake in the success of the venture.

BUILD A MOVEMENT

Entrepreneurs who create a social venture see a future where consumers can get behind a change for the better. They see evidence of a rising movement of conscious consumers. They know there is market potential and that there are like-minded consumers out there who will support a business with a cause they believe in. According to the Edelman 2015 Trust Barometer, 81% of 33,000 consumers surveyed believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions in the community where it operates. Further, a recent survey from CONE Communications showed that 74% of Americans want brands to explain how purchases impact the environment.

81% of 33,000 consumers surveyed believe that a company can take specific actions that both increase profits and improve the social conditions in the community where it operates

MARKET WITH A PURPOSE

Even the best ideas might have a hard time getting off the ground. Successful social ventures don’t just hide behind product features and benefits when marketing their brand; they are proud of and vocal about their higher purpose and vision for a better future. They understand how to package their story and use an emotive approach to communicate with targets, aiming to reach and build a strong tribe. HAVAS Media & Accenture conducted a survey of 30,000 people arose twenty countries in five continents and learned that a strong brand proposition linked to purpose can reach influential consumer demographics. Their study shared: “Communication is critical and should be integrated into the brand proposition to influence this high value audience: 70% of mothers say they would buy more of a specific brand if they were aware of its positive impacts.”

70% of mothers say they would buy more of a brand if they were aware of its positive impacts Click To Tweet

TARGET INFLUENCERS, BUILD ADVOCATES

An effective marketing strategy and carefully thought out plan will ensure that the right influencers are engaged and advocates are nurtured as the social venture launches and grows. To amplify marketing goals, consider the target market carefully to generate word-of-mouth promotion. A joint study conducted by BBMG & Globe Scan & SustainAbility explains further: “Driven by young, optimistic consumers in emerging markets and amplified by technology and social media’s influence, Aspirationals represent a powerful shift in sustainable consumption from obligation to desire. Aspirationals are influencers – 95% encourage others to buy from socially and environmentally responsible companies.”

95% of Aspirationals encourage others to buy from socially and enviro responsible companies. Click To Tweet

SHARE TRANSPARENTLY

The Edelman Trust Barometer also revealed that in 2015, trust across government, business, media and NGOs have all declined, evaporating the gains that had been made post recession. Social ventures have a unique obligation and opportunity to communicate openly and transparently with their customers and stakeholders. Whether the enterprise creates jobs with fair wages, diverts waste out of landfills, improves air quality or keeps chemicals out of the soil, these metrics are as important as profits and may even be more relevant to stakeholder. Being able to quantify and measure outcomes will be important to build meaningful messages that engage their community and give them something to talk about.

Could your business learn more and gain inspiration from these social ventures? Looking for ideas to implement these lessons learned to grow your business consciously? Contact Seeds Consulting to get started.

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5 INSPIRATIONAL MARKETING LESSONS FROM SOCIAL VENTURES

Brands that aim to create social good

Propelling Social Ventures is a one day event hosted by UBC’s Sauder School of Business that uncovers innovative ways to combine business with positive impact. The 2015 conference put the spotlight on social ventures that are re-imagining business for impact and mature businesses that are redefining models and strategies to integrate positive change on a large scale into their organizations.

The event featured start up social entrepreneurs along with more seasoned experts and business leaders, each of whom have found a niche where their business can make a positive impact in the world. While there was plenty of food for thought packed throughout the day, these were the five key marketing lessons that could apply to any type of business:

HONE YOUR TARGET MARKET

Brands for the Heart, an online branding and graphic design agency that brings together a virtual team, chose to focus only on a small niche of entrepreneurs and changemakers that are bootstrapping to build a business that makes a positive impact in the world. While the founders have experience working with global brands, they have developed a platform to help only new social ventures access talented branding and design professionals at a fraction of the agency rate.

BUILD YOUR TRIBE

Janie Hoffman, founder of Mamma Chia vitality drinks and snacks, started her business by building authentic relationships that had the potential to grow even before she had a product. When she wanted to bring energy-packed chia seeds to the mainstream and when she realized that the supply of chia seeds were only conventionally grown, she met directly with farmers in central America and enrolled them in the opportunity to switch to organic. She then surrounded herself with like-minded people who choose healthy lifestyles and believe in organic agriculture; a tribe who then became her first loyal customers and vocal brand advocates.

DISRUPT INDUSTRY NORMS

The entrepreneurs behind Wize Monkey identified a big gap in the coffee and tea industries. While most coffee plantations only operate a few months of the year to harvest ripe beans, they saw some low hanging fruit that would help keep employees working year-round. Instead of just harvesting the beans, they introduced a revolutionary new tea brand that is actually made by the coffee leaf itself. Not only does the tea have less caffeine, it is tasty, full of antioxidants, and it helps farmers operate more profitable plantations while providing stable job opportunities for pickers.

ELEVATE YOUR IMPACT

Social venture entrepreneurs are not just looking to build followers, generate likes or sell trendy widgets. They are looking for authentic ways for their businesses to become the best for the world, not just the best in the world. These are for-profit businesses that solve some of the world’s most challenging problems, often with a relatively simple solution. Arbutus Medical developed a $400 alternative to $30,000 surgical drills to enable safe and effective treatments of patients in the developing world. Time Auction designed a website portal that allows you to trade volunteer hours to meet inspiring people. Wize Monkey and Mamma Chia are helping farmers in some of the poorest countries to build more profitable and sustainable businesses.

GROW CONSCIOUSLY

Each of the businesses featured at Propelling Social Ventures shared great stories about their challenges to scale up. Finding the right partners who share your core values is essential for any social venture to grow and thrive. Janie Hoffman of Mamma Chia summed it up by sharing that “money is energy”; cautioning business founders to be conscious of the partners they attract, who will ultimately shape the future of the business.

Finding partners who share your core values is essential for any social venture to grow +… Click To Tweet

Could your business learn more and gain inspiration from these social ventures? Looking for ideas to implement these lessons learned to grow your business consciously?  Contact Seeds Consulting to get started.

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