My eight-year-old daughter, Sydney, loves jewelry.
Her love of jewelry started very young, and as she got older, she was more and more interested in making her own. My husband and I bought her different jewelry-making kits, but she ignored them because she thought the materials in the kits were too constraining. Instead, she makes jewelry out of anything she can find. We now have set her up with a big box of art supplies that she can add to and take from whatever she needs. Her latest creations were bracelets that she likes to put on before she uses her Taekwondo moves on our other child, Dylan. She likes the warrior princess vibe they bring when she is charging into Dylan’s room without permission.
She likes to make pieces for her family and friends, and while she hasn’t quite gotten into selling them just yet, she might one day. I figured a potential jewelry-making business might be a helpful example to run through the Good Business Worksheet to illustrate what it might look like for any company. This Worksheet is the core of my book, The Social Impact Advantage, and you can download the resource for free.
Let’s spend some time with Sydney to see how she would use these steps to change how she made her money to embed equitable impact across her business. (To be clear, this is hypothetical; no, I did not make my child actually do this!)
Step 1: She first thinks through her core business model. This is pretty easy since it is a straight-forward business. She makes jewelry using the materials she has purchased, and sells them for a little bit more than what she bought the materials for. She uses the revenue to buy more materials.
Step 2: Looking at the three areas of impact for how she makes her money, she isn’t big enough (yet!) to acquire another company or product line, but she thinks she can make an impact in the other two areas.
Step 3: With a focus on product innovation and customer engagement, she considers what “low-hanging fruit” she can tackle first. Sydney decides she wants to form a partnership with a nonprofit, because girls’ empowerment is very important to her. An easy thing she can do is donate a part of her proceeds to a local nonprofit that helps girls learn how to code. Doing this will helps create a bond with customers who care about this issue and increases their loyalty to her product. She knows this kind of “ percent of profits donated” model is a pretty low bar for impact, so she also wants to think about the environmental impact of her product and how to reach the point where she has a carbon-neutral product.
Step 4: In terms of the Innovate-Accelerate-Decelerate cycle, she decides to innovate with her low-hanging fruit idea and partner with the nonprofit and create a bigger relationship than one focused solely on donations. In addition to donating part of her profits, she decides to give free pieces of jewelry to the girls in the program, which they wear the jewelry at all their coding competitions, expanding her customer base and giving her access to those girls networks of as well as their parents.
For “acceleration,” she sets up a community of those who believe in girls’ empowerment and girls in STEM around her jewelry. She has a group of friends who love her jewelry, and leans into that and builds on the excitement that’s already there. They are able to support the work of the nonprofit, and also connect with each other around the jewelry, make specific requests, and tell their friends about Sydney’s product.
For “decelerate,” Sydney wants to use less and ultimately stop using environmentally unfriendly materials, by creating a supply chain that has a better environmental impact. She knows that this may be hard to accomplish, but it’s a long-term goal and something that’s important to her product and her brand.
At each step of the Innovate-Accelerate-Decelerate cycle, she thinks through her blind spots and considers what she may be missing. Under innovate, she considers that the nonprofit she partners with may not actually be reaching the girls who are most in need, and decides to ask her point of contact how the organization can expand its outreach. For accelerate, she considers that by relying only on her friends, she may exclude some people who want to participate, so she puts up fliers to recruit others to join the group. As to decelerate, she considers that some smaller suppliers may not have a big presence online, so she considers expanding her research beyond the internet.
This is Sydney’s completed “How you make your money” worksheet. Once she’s done with this, she hangs it up over her jewelry making table and gets ready to focus on part 2: How she spends her money!
I’ll share her journey in my next piece.
Want to explore what you are already doing to create equitable impact and how you can leverage those things to unlock the full potential of your business? Check out The Social Impact Advantage and read on!