A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Ted Sarvata, a podcaster, blogger and business coach from Portland, Oregon. He was looking for purpose based businesses in the Detroit area to interview. He found Buy The Change through BLab which is the organization that certified us as a Benefit Corporation last year. It turns out we are the only registered BCorp in southeastern Michigan. Of course, I said YES!
Ted was visiting the Detroit area and was kind enough to make the drive out to the sticks where I live. We met in my home office and had a great talk about using business as a force for positive change, purpose, impact, jumping before you are ready and balancing it all to create long term impact and business success.
After listening to the interview and hearing myself talk at length about our artisans and how partnering with Buy The Change makes an impact on their lives, it was apparent that Buy The Change may be too tilted toward the purpose side, too focused on social change for our artisans, rather than building long term business strategies and relationships with our customers. I hardly said anything about our customers. hmmmm That just gets my brain power going because you are certainly as important a piece of the business success puzzle as our producers. Balance is a tricky, tricky thing.
A well known business strategy is that a company, any type of company, must solve a problem for it's customers. Said company must package and present products in a way that appeals to potential customers who may not be focused on purpose, they just like the stuff.
Market Pull over Supply Push; drawing potential customers in with what you can do for them, rather than with what buying can do for your company, and/or social purpose. This is not a new concept but it is one we have resisted. We have focused on our customer's desire to be of service to women around the world.
It may be that we have been thinking too small..... What do you think? Give the podcast interview a listen, www.purposepodcast.com, episode 36 (its 30 minutes long), then leave your thoughts in the comment section.