Imagine someone you knew coming up to you and asking you a series of simple questions. And imagine that one of those questions was this:
‘Would you like your business to be creating more impact in the world than you ever thought possible?’
I’ve asked that question many, many times to business owners around the world. None have ever answered ‘no’. None have never answered, ‘Well… It depends.’ Fully 100% of them have answered ‘Yes’. And it’s always a kind of ‘Yes, of course I do!’
So let’s start by imagining you feel like that too.
Let’s frame our discussion here with the point that there’s never been a time when your impact is
a) so easy to make, and
b) so important to make now.
We’ll park that ‘so easy to make’ point for a while and just look quickly at WHY it’s so important to make now.
Right now there are close to 7.6 billion of us on the planet. There’s not a day that goes past where we don’t hear or read about seemingly intractable issues (like the staggering number — close to 700 million in fact — of people who don’t have water, or the one in three of us that don’t have access to sanitation).
It’s an endless list.
Because the numbers really are so big and so confronting, we literally get overwhelmed. We don’t see how we can be a part of the solution. So we switch off.
THERE’S ANOTHER VIEW
Marcel Proust expressed it best when he so eloquently said: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.“
Let’s take that advice and look at things in a slightly different way.
Just like we have two eyes, there are two parts to this.
Here’s the first part; answering the question, ‘How much money would it take annually to fix this issue?‘ The numbers are in US dollars and they are big (we’ll look at them with new eyes in just a moment):
- 22 BILLION — that’s what Global Issues tells us it would cost to give every child access to education
- 23 BILLION — that’s what they say it would cost to give everyone access to pure, life-saving water
- 30 BILLION — that’s the additional annual amount it would take to give every child at least one nutritious meal every day
Now, as we get ready to look with new eyes, let’s look at what we human beings spend on ‘comparable’ things:
- 168 BILLION — annually on magazines
- 1 TRILLION — on pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and so on
- 568 BILLION — on fast food
So the money’s there — it’s how we spend it that might be the real challenge. But that’s not the real point.
In this past decade or two, more and more businesses have been ‘trying’ to do something about it. But it’s certainly not ALL businesses.
At least 70 per cent of businesses around the world are SME’s — small-to-medium enterprises. How come they’ve not been giving?
For way too long now, we’ve heard about CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) what we might call the ‘big end of town’ where it’s frequently been about large dollars and obligatory ‘feel good’ pieces in Shareholder reports.
But now, new eyes are looking in. Even the United Nations is looking with new eyes. On 23 September they launched the Sustainable Development Goals (sometimes referred to more simply as The Global Goals).
Sir Richard Branson was there helping people like Unilever’s Paul Polman — a company that does it differently, by the way — launch the 17 Global Goals. As Sir Richard observed publicly that day “this is the first time ever that the World Body — the United Nations — has acknowledged that it’s NOT Governments who make the real difference in our world, it’s business.”
His view is this:
“We must explore this next great frontier where the boundaries between work and higher purpose are merging into one; where doing good really is good for business.”
It’s understanding that point about higher purpose that really is the pupil of the new eyes. As Simon Sinek so magically observed to me recently, “True purpose is human. True purpose goes BEYOND your product and service.”
There’s a wonderful shift occurring where businesses are shifting from profit-focus to purpose-focus. Profit is, of course, essential. Being truly on purpose unleashes it to create businesses that care sustainably, businesses that embrace long-term thinking over short-term profit.
Interestingly enough, when you consider businesses who practice long-term thinking AND businesses who really last, you find that most of them, actually (this may surprise you), are family businesses. They tend to be the ones that last (there’s even one in Japan that is still going strong even though it started in the year 781!)
That leads us nicely to a key thought that ties everything we’re talking about together. It’s beautifully expressed by Mother Teresa like this: “ The problem with the world is that we draw our family circle too small.”
SO… WHAT IF… ?
What if we could make our ‘family’ larger by linking what we do in business every day. What if the coffee shop on the corner could say ‘Every time you have a coffee here, a child gets access to pure, life-saving water.’
What if we could do that in such a way that it might cost only one-cent to make that happen — one solitary cent.
What if you could say on the bottom of every email that you write, ‘Went from my iPhone and changing lives by providing a day’s education to a child in need through our partnership with B1G1.’
And what if that cost just one solitary cent too?
The implications of that are profound when you consider that 2.6 MILLION emails are sent every single second of every day.
What if you were an Accounting Firm and you sent a Gratitude Certificate to your new client that read like this:
We’re thrilled you’ve joined us. Many, many congratulations. When you joined us we didn’t tell you one important thing. Every time we do business together with our clients, we make sure something great happens in our world. And in this case <Client Name> we thought you’d like to know that we’ve given goats to 2 families in Kenya to help them create truly sustainable income for life. Creating sustainable and growing businesses is central to our mission here as well as doing great things in our world. We’re so looking forward to serving you and to doing great things together.
It’s very different isn’t it?
Imagine the connection you’d feel if you were the customer in any one of the scenarios we’ve mentioned.
In fact, thousands of scenarios like this ARE now happening in our world every day, and in every way.
This is not just businesses giving. It’s businesses (small to medium scale ones) collectively involving their teams in choosing the way they give and much, much more. It’s business owners recognising the value not just of purpose and meaning but of actually expressing that in wonderful ways.
Seth Godin once said, “The challenge is not to be successful. The challenge is to matter.” And I’d add to that,
“The challenge is not just to matter, it’s to make a real impact too.”
B1G1 makes that so eminently possible with over 500 seriously high-impact projects around the world — projects who’ve gone through a selection process where 6 out of 7 get rejected.
This is NOT an organisation that has a mission to get people to give to a cause …. a mission that’s usually expressed on charity websites with a button that says simply — DONATE.