Recently, while evaluating our next nonprofit pro bono project, a friend said to me, “Should you really be focusing on that right now? You have a lot going on already."
One reason I started my digital marketing agency less than a year ago was to operate with a higher purpose. I was tired of hearing companies pay lip service to philanthropic initiatives and never truly make an effort. Sound familiar?
How many times have you sat in meetings where “community involvement” or “donations” were mentioned as a means to differentiate the company or create a better culture? These conversations take place all the time only to be forgotten five minutes later. Why? Because serving others isn't a core principle the company lives by. Other priorities like maximizing profits dominate the conversation. With profits as the main motivator, why would the topic of giving back be remembered or prioritized?
When starting out, we built our core principles on the Conscious Capitalism framework. Regardless of your position, I recommend everyone from assistant to CEO read "Conscious Capitalism." Here are the 4 principles of conscious businesses:
- Conscious Leadership
- Stakeholder Orientation
- Conscious Culture
- Higher Purpose
Start Living Out Your Purpose
In this post, I'll be focusing on the “Higher Purpose” portion of Conscious Capitalism. To answer the opening question posed about “free work,” it took me about five seconds to respond with a resounding and enthusiastic, “YES! This is exactly what we should be focused on!” And let me tell you why.
1. Corporate responsibility attracts like-minded clients and employees.
Most business owners, clients and employees want to be involved with a company that serves a purpose beyond profit maximization, does what it says and validates its values with actions.
2. Integrity is a powerful differentiator for your business.
As a small or established business, you also need to stand out. If you tell customers, recruits, employees, friends and family your company is different and this is why, you better live up to that promise. Abandoning your promise won't immediately backfire on you. But at some point, failed promises or frustrations stack up and someone like a valued employee takes a step back and recognizes the disparity between company values and actions.
Perhaps you set out to “be different” but found yourself buried with work or suddenly strapped for time. A great CEO once told me “not enough time” isn't a reason something didn't get done. Rather, it simply wasn't a priority. If you don't carve out time or prioritize your purpose over other revenue-generating projects, it won't happen. Many people could do great things if they had unlimited time. But time is precious and short. Let’s prioritize what matters most and fulfill our promises and purpose.
3. The intrinsic rewards make work more enjoyable.
Most importantly, you're helping others with your most valuable assets (time or money). You didn't get to where you are today without someone lending a hand. Now it's time to return the favor.
We recently hosted a local nonprofit organization at our office, sat with the CEO and conducted an inbound marketing kick-off meeting just as we would with a paying client. It was truly fulfilling to put this company above other potential paying clients and help elevate its online presence. In doing so, we're helping this organization help millions of less fortunate people around the world.
4. The benefits of helping others always circle back.
As long as you're serving a higher purpose for humble reasons, you’ll always end up ahead. While you may be investing time upfront, the benefits of helping others will come back to you.
For instance, when meeting with our most recent pro-bono client, his final questions caught us off guard. He said, “How can we help you? What kind of referrals can we send your way? What kind of press might you be interested in?" We hadn’t even considered these questions. But when you are genuine and passionate in your efforts to give back, success tends to follow. In fact, conscious companies outperform the market by 10.5 times!
Enjoy life and help others. That’s our internal primary purpose at Human Marketing. If we're helping others and enjoying the journey, everything else comes easier. Customer success, revenue and profits all come with the territory.
So yes, your purpose is a priority. This is what I choose to spend time on. I hope this encourages you to consider how you can work toward becoming a conscious business.