In a world plagued by climate change, food and water shortages, surging populations, and social injustice, we can no longer afford business as usual.
The damaging business models of the past, which prioritized short-term gains and growth at the expense of sustainability, are coming to an end—and consumers are making sure of it.
A recent study published in Fox Business showed that more than 90% of consumers are likely to switch to brands that support a good cause, and boycott companies that engage in irresponsible business practices.
In today’s Information Age, the veil behind corporate operations has lifted. “Information about a given company’s environmental record and labor practices is readily available—and readily tweeted and retweeted. Companies must pay careful attention to what their customers do and say,” says TIME.
On all fronts, companies are being held accountable to a higher level of social responsibility. So what does this mean for the future of business?
One millennial put it quite simply when she quit her job that didn’t measure up to her standards of integrity: businesses stuck in the past are getting left behind.
Meet Lauren Andrews, CEO of The Foundation, an online program that teaches entrepreneurs how to start a business, even if they have “no idea, no special skills, or limited cash to get started.” Andrews says The Foundation is part of the next generation of businesses that are leading with social change.
I spoke with Andrews about how entrepreneurs can make business a force for good on this week’s episode of Unconventional Life, “Why Starting A Business Is The Fastest Route For Social Change.”
Sometimes, the call to action can arrive in unexpected ways. In 2014, Andrews was on track to get a Ph.D. and in need of new a job after her former one, working second in command at a nonprofit, displayed a lack of alignment with her personal values.
Her search led her to Craigslist, where she found an unusual job posting. “I came across the most sketchy Craigslist ad you’ve ever seen,” Andrews says. “For whatever reason I applied… and within 5 minutes I had Andy’s credit card information and his keys and was hired as his personal assistant.”
Andrews is referring to Andy Drish, a cofounder of The Foundation alongside Dane Maxwell. Maxwell launched The Foundation from his parents’ garage with $123 to his name, with the company four years later generating revenue in the millions.
Little did Andrews know, but the opportunity would actually prove to be her calling to something much, much greater.
In just two years, Andrews plowed through the ranks of personal assistant, human resourcer, event planner, financier… all the way up to CEO. She says she was driven by The Foundation’s commitment to make a difference in the world by empowering people to create meaningful businesses.
“I very quickly saw that what The Foundation was doing and what so many millennial entrepreneur businesses are doing is that they’re creating social change. They’re able to create good in the world. Entrepreneurialism is what I believe to be the most effective and expedited source and venue for social change,” Andrews remarks.
What does it take for a business to become a force for positive change? Below, Andrews shares the best of The Foundation’s principles that you can apply to your business or startup today.
1. Act in community. Assembling a motivated team that shares your company’s values is key. You should be able to trust and depend on the people you work with, not just to build a company but to build each other. “When entrepreneurs come together we’re able to make a huge difference in the world,” Andrews says. Consider organizing team-building events to foster cohesion and community in your workplace.
2. Create a culture of freedom. The best employees don’t need to be micromanaged; they thrive in environments that encourage them to come up with creative solutions and contribute their unique voice. Equally important is the freedom to design a lifestyle around work that inspires employees to put forth their best effort. Andrews says “having the kind of freedom in your life where you have total control and don’t have to go into work for 8 hours to do only 4 hours of work” was key to her commitment to The Foundation’s success.
3. Host events that matter. Making events a signature part of your business is a way to gain massive exposure and stand out from the crowd, all while bringing people together and providing value. Enlist influential people as speakers, facilitate live breakthroughs, and gather at a destination location for a truly unforgettable experience. The Foundation has been hosting live events annually since 2012 that have since grown to be a trademark of the company, attracting hundreds of new and veteran entrepreneurs from around the world. Check out their upcoming event in Las Vegas, “The Foundation Experience,” to see what goes into creating a world-class event.
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