When you’re focused on profit first, you may not stop to consider how your business is impacting the environment. On our podcast, In Systems We Trust, we recently talked to Angela Wallace, a conscious capitalist with experience building brands with purpose. She discussed the systems they have in place and how the companies she’s worked with help the planet. Currently, she’s working at BOGObrush, a sustainable toothbrush company that turns waste into biodegradable toothbrushes.
According to Wallace, there are four pillars to becoming a conscious capitalist:
- Leadership - having the systems in place to implement sustainable strategies.
- Purpose - having a higher purpose and solving a worthy problem in the world.
- Culture - creating a culture of care, where you treat people and the planet as worthy of preserving.
- Stakeholders - meaning everyone that you work with and every life you touch is a stakeholder.
It may sound idealistic, because it is, but anyone can implement conscious capitalism. It’s an attitude and set of core values that help drive your behaviour.
There are a few things you can do to implement conscious capitalism:
Make it a goal.
If something is set as a goal, it becomes easier to achieve. In your business, you set goals and objectives every year. When you do, include conscious capitalism as part of your goals. Set attainable targets. They don’t have to take over your current business plan, but make them an additional priority.
Measure your impact.
If you think about it, we measure nearly everything in business. We measure our success, our market share, our growth, and our profitability. You can also measure your impact on the planet. Once you set your goal, figure out a way to measure it. Maybe it’s zero emissions. Or offsetting your carbon footprint.
Ask yourself how it changes a person’s life.
The end goal of business is to be successful, sell your product or service, and help change someone’s life. Behind BOGObrush, Wallace is of course working to sell a higher number of units and increase profitability. But, she’s also asking herself how it changes a person’s life. How is BOGObrush helping others? She uses that to her advantage. She tells a true story and shares it with her clients. Having a mission statement that helps people is a really great way to reach your higher purpose and drive more sales.
Set up systems.
It’s imperative to have the systems in place so you can run your company successfully because it helps your purpose. Wallace shared how if you wanted to take every toothbrush out of the ocean, without a viable company, it won’t work. Because BOGObrush wants to keep toothbrushes out of landfills, they have to have the best structures and systems in place within their business so it runs successfully.
The most important thing you’ll need to do is create systems. As Wallace says, when operating as a conscious capitalist, you’re doing everything a traditional capitalist will do. Functionally, you operate the same as every other business. But, foundationally, you’re reaching toward your company’s higher purpose. It is in the details. She explained how in her day-to-day work, she does practical things like connect with manufacturers, increase the company’s distribution, and wholesale brand development. As you determine the details, you can integrate green systems.
At the heart of conscious capitalism is the successful business. The goal is to bring together operating systems and profitability to create meaningful change. When Wallace first joined BOGObrush, the founders didn’t have a background in setting up systems and processes. So, she worked to get the team aligned and set up across Asana. It was there they could see what still needed to be done, what other people had to do, and so on. They also set up other systems that gave clarity into the company and how it operated.
Systems and processes are put into place to simplify the day-to-day tasks. When you have a strong higher purpose, you don’t have time to run around and do tasks that could be automated. On top of that, when growing a company, you need your analytic tools. You have to see how many sales are being made, how many sale pitches were completed, your cash flow, how many Instagram followers, and e-commerce revenue.
This isn’t a one person job. It requires a collaborative effort and a willing team of employees.
Teach them how to operate the systems.
A system is only as good as your team. If your members don’t know how, or aren’t willing, to operate the systems, they aren’t going to work. Remember to keep your higher purpose at the heart of it all. You’re doing these things so your business can succeed - which then makes your mission succeed.
Check out the Podcast with Angela Wallace: