When I started Lucky Forks at the beginning of last year, I did not anticipate that our first year in business would remind me so much of my 2012 experience starting the agency sales team at xAd (now Groundtruth). Eight years ago, when someone talked about mobile location targeting, they were basically talking about a 5-mile radius around the location of their business. That was considered innovation. Unlike today, there was no discussion around how physical world behavior was an indicator of who you are as an individual. We spent those early years evangelizing how the industry needed to think deeper about location targeting and data. Eventually, everyone started to realize the value of mobile location and developed a location offering.
Last year as we started to meet with companies around their social good strategies, I started to notice the interesting parallels to my early days of mobile location. Over and over, I heard similar feedback around social good initiatives, “We had a volunteer day earlier this year for our team, but we know we need to do more.” I understood that everyone I spoke to had the best intentions to have social good options for their employees. However, being a business with a daily authentic purpose carried an overwhelming perception that seemed like a major shift in functioning as a business.
Last January, Lucky Forks launched with the tagline encouraging companies to “Do Good. Be Ready.” for the quickly changing workforce. I started to realize there was a larger mind shift that needed to happen, so business leaders could see the value in purpose as a whole. A shift that would give the needed foundational mindset to put purpose as a key component to business operations.
First, we needed to stop overthinking integrating purpose within our organizations. In my opinion, everyone already had the tools they needed to create social impact. Businesses just had to think differently about how they used their resources and time. Second, we needed to realize that consumer’s expectations of business were changing, and we needed to start changing the way we defined our corporations. Running a successful business and taking that success and using it for good was becoming an expectation of our customers. When businesses did these key things, purpose could naturally weave itself into the day to day of the organization.
Here is a deeper look at these business mind shifts:
Utilize what we already have, and purpose can exist every day in our organizations. When we launched our GiveMe5 initiative in May, we wanted companies to utilize budgets that they already had in a different way. Being a sales leader for most of my career, I knew that there were millions of dollars a year spent on happy hours, concerts, sporting events, parties, etc. If companies just started using a small portion of that money in a different way, it could make a huge impact on social causes. The idea was not to have companies find more money but to utilize the money they already had in more purposeful ways.
The GiveMe5 example is just the beginning of ways that we feel social impact can be created with current resources. It is an approach that we feel all businesses can take in many different areas of their business today. If your organization has the best creative team within your organization, host pro-bono nonprofit workshops where your organization volunteers your employees time to create more engaging nonprofit ad creative. If your organization has a robust accounting team, donate those skills to help nonprofits learn how to run a more efficient business. These resources to create social good are all around us. Once everyone starts to think differently about the ways we use budgets, time, skill sets, tech and other resources, we can start to see places where new social impact can be created.
With business expectations evolving, it is not just about for-profit or nonprofit. We have typically defined companies into two different buckets: for-profit or nonprofit. It is a very black and white delineation in classifying an organization that doesn’t necessarily encourage change in behavior in today’s evolving business world. The two words imply that your goal is to make money or not make money. From a perception standpoint, the people who choose “for-profit” are greedy and only in it to make the most money. The people who choose “nonprofit” are destined to eat ramen noodles for the rest of their life while they move society toward their organization’s social mission. As purpose becomes more important to business, these black and white definitions are less relevant in defining a successful business that gives back at its core. It is also counter-productive to attracting talent who may have skill sets to amplify social missions in more scalable ways.
State lawmakers have already begun to notice this evolution of business and realized that for-profit organizations need to be in the business of purpose. In 2010, Maryland was the first state to pass US benefit corporation legislation. By definition, a benefit corporation commits to creating public benefit and sustainable value in addition to generating profit. In a nutshell, it is a business based in purpose. Lucky Forks is a benefit corporation, and today, over 2/3 of states recognize benefit corporation legislation, encouraging that you can be a business of profit and purpose.
As Lucky Forks moves into its second year of business, we wanted to change our tagline to reflect the way we think business should be thinking when looking at the future. Just like my experience in 2012, location was more than a 5-mile geo-fence and purpose is more than just one employee volunteer day. Purpose is a complete shift in how we think about defining business and how we apply that thinking to our day to day operations to create social good. We now realize that our role in business is much bigger than just doing good and being ready. It is not about being for-profit or nonprofit. It is about being for-purpose at our core and relooking at resources to create that daily purpose. That is why this year, we launch our new tagline as “A For-Purpose Company” and encourage all businesses to strive toward this objective.