Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Start Something that Matters ... the least of these

by Dale Shumaker

Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie is about looking for solutions in the world by using business and entrepreneurship. Solve problems creatively. Mycoskie created a social entrepreneur business concept to sell a pair of shoes today, give a pair of shoes tomorrow. So, Tomorrows Shoes, became Toms. In his book he tells his story and provides encouragement and personal guidelines for others who will do the same... start something that has an impact on the world.

Toms is more than about shoes. It's a story of how with three interns, in a Venice apartment, a website, Mycoskie began selling shoes so that for every pair of shoes he sold, he would give one away. It was a story that began grabbing people's attention. Fist the LA Times published a story, then Vogue magazine. By the end of his first summer Toms sold 10,000 shoes, and then made 10,000 more shoes to give away in Argentina at clinics and schools.

Why did he do this. "This provided me a sense of fulfillment unlike anything I felt before," stated Blake Mycoskie.

Today as the world is mutating, you must play by a new set of rules. Here's Mycoskie's guiding principles behind Toms, doing something that matters and makes a difference.

The six traits of starting and sustaining something that matters.

Find Your Story
Conscious capitalism is about connecting supporters to something that matters. You are competitive, with superior quality, competitive pricing, fashionable, but something that your supporters believe in .

What's your passion?
What would you do if you didn't have to worry about money?
What kind of work would you want to do?
What cause can you serve?

Always be thinking of ways to tell your story. Share your story with everyone you can. Find story partners with a contact base who will tell your story with you. Carefully manage your online story. Find influence makers who love your story. Be specific about your idea, product, expertise. Craft it so it appeals to those you want to be your supporters.

Face your Fears
Explore. Dream. Discover.

Face up to your fears in business. It won't kill you if you fail. Create a plan to overcome what you fear. Everyone who succeeds battles through adversity. In a new endeavor you will inevitably wake up in fear thinking no matter how hard you work, you are doomed. You must face it and keep learning. The question: What will you do with your fears at this time. The key: Focus on what you can control. How you react to negative emotions will be the key to your success.

How to fight off fear.
No matter what happens, win, lose, draw, never forget life goes on. Don't fear the  unknown. Start. Learn as you go.  Everyone makes mistakes. Your boat may have a whole in it. But you will not sink.
Don't be too concerned about what other people think. And don't get trapped in the "best idea" freeze. It is execution that matters not necessarily the best idea. When you start something noble, frequently you feel alone. Surround yourself with great biographies of those who did great things, stories that inspire you. Timing is never right. If you wait for the right time, you may never make a move at all.

Be Resourceful without Resources
The truth is we don't know if something will work, so it is difficult to raise money like a traditional business does. "With no money, no likelihood of raising it, and no proven business model, we had to cut more corners than corners existed."

Lack of resources makes you become resourceful and creative. Entrepreneurs are innovatively successful. Too much capital can hinder the expansion of these qualities. Even without resources you should do it. You need a lot of people's help. To get help you stand for something bigger than just yourself and your business.

Make What You Have Count
Develop a presence where it's free. Take full advantage of social media. For Toms it was the DNA of their business.

Space matters. Toms made a deal to use an address of an established business to receive their mail there. Cost of office space is an unneeded expense for a start up business. Forget titles. Toms had creative and flexible titles. Be what intrigues others and/or gets you in the door. Business cards mean business. Business cards are great means to gain attention, and low cost to make. Reward employees. Employees with full stomachs are happy and productive. Be creative with gifts and prizes. The age of free. From web development to public relations, there's a lot of free services out there. Try Googling "free(and what you need)". You will be amazed how much there is that is free.

Keep It Simple
Product design, simplicity of business model, Toms used a hundred year old Argentina shoe design.
A simple operation. Do one thing and do it the best you can. Unclutter your work space. Have a notebook, electronic or paper, with you all the time. Own as little as you can get away with. Schedule everything, combine as many things as possible to one thing.

The simple plan. Write it in one sentence. 1. What is your business? 2. Be known for what personally? 3. Why should someone hire you? 4. Social cause you are seeking to serve? 5. What can you remove from your product or service and still keep its function intact?  Answer your appropriate questions in one sentence.

Build Trust

You need to build internal trust, with those in your organization, and external trust  with your customers, vendors, your donors or investors. A leader is to create a company, but  community creates a movement. Truly great servants are inspiring. Servant leaders make it a community affair to advance. No tolerance for breaking trust; making mistakes, yes, breaking trust, no.

External trust: make a powerful promise and fulfill it. Be forthright to where your money goes. To foster trust, be open with your staff, give away autonomy, trust employees that they will grow into their role, follow the Golden Rule and be as open as possible.

Giving is Good Business
It's good because it helps people; it's good because it makes money. More and more who make giving part of their business model are finding this out. Giving not only helps you attract great employees, it helps you attract great partners as well. People want to partner with those who are doing something good. The old school of business is for profit only. The new school is to do what is right with social responsibility.
Don't make giving an after thought. Give more than money. Donate skills, incorporate giving anywhere you can. Give early. Don't get overwhelmed, there's something you can give. It is better to give than receive. Listen to those you give to.

Final Step
Go out into the world and have a positive impact, inspire others to start something that matters whether for profit or not-for-profit.
Start something. It doesn't have to be big. You don't have to have a lot of money. You don't have to save the world.
Take the step. Start. Start something that matters.


Jesus said whatever you do to the least you do to me.
In His teachings, Jesus emphasized that we are servants to each other. Whoever serves is the greatest. The Apostle Paul talks about submitting to each other, put others before yourself, and confessing our shortcomings to each other.

So much of the Scriptures point to this. That we are to consider others as more important than ourselves, and what we do to the less fortunate is the earmark of true Christianity. The Spirit is motivated to move when this is done. We see that this impacts everything else we do.
In any endeavor this applies, whether it's an entrepreneur venture, or a social improvement organization. It is difficult to see how this works as it may defy logic of a for-profit business. Toms points this out that it works in business. Be a servant, be a giver, help those with what you have. 
It's a new philosophy in the business world. But it appears to be grabbing the attention of more and more business people.

We all have a personal mission and this is expressed many times in a business venture we take on. The key is to serve others, and consider doing things for others who can't pay you back. The Spiritual cycle ignites when we focus on doing things, but not for personal gain.

The more we give without expecting something in return, the more The Spirit works to bring you back more. Whatever you give is given back to you many more times the amount given. Start something that matters and apply the teachings of Jesus to it and see what God does through it.