#2 - Collaboration for (commercial) good, plus recommended reads and more.
Trends and inspiration from the purpose-driven business space
Hey fellow good business lovers.
Firstly, thanks so much for all the lovely feedback on the first issue! This is the second edition of Just Good Company - your weekly deep dive into information and inspiration from the growing purpose-driven business space.
First up, a few stats; 79 people read edition one, 39 of you are subscribed to get this delivered to your inbox, with a massive 63% open rate 🙌. The Dell competition for female entrepreneurs to win tech for their business was the most clicked link.
A look at how purpose-driven businesses are using collaboration with ‘the competition’ as a competitive advantage, as well as a force for good.
Recommended reads and news - Living Wage Foundation increases rates, female entrepreneur competition and two sustainability events in October.
Final thought - in a world that’s full of despair, remember to be kind.
I hope you enjoy it and please keep the feedback coming my way.
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🤓 Collaboration for (commercial) good
Last week I spoke on a panel looking at consumer activism as a form of action organised by fellow tech-for-good start-up viaGood. As you’d expect we covered a lot, but the one theme that resonated the most for me was how purpose-driven businesses are using collaboration with ‘the competition’ as a competitive advantage, as well as a force for good.
Let me break this down a bit more.
You’d be right in thinking that in the traditional commercial, for profit world collaboration is rare. It absolutely does happen around larger societal causes (I helped set up Internet Matters, a non-profit focused on keeping children safer online with our three biggest competitors when I worked at TalkTalk). But would we share tips and tricks on how to improve our operations… not so much. You’d be a little surprised if one supermarket was calling up the other to tell them about how they’d managed to gain market share that month. On the one hand, that makes sense. They are competing after all. But it also comes from a scarcity mindset - that there is only so much to go around and therefore you have to take or keep it to yourself.
This is, for the most part, not what I have seen or experienced when it comes to purpose-driven businesses. Perhaps some of it is because many are SMEs disrupting established markets, rather than defending their position.
But I think its primarily because the overarching mission they are trying to achieve - be that reducing waste, tackling homelessness, reducing re-offending to name but a few - are just so big. There is so much to do that you know you can’t do it alone. The old way of competing with each other at any cost just won’t do.
In the past week I’ve discovered two social entrepreneurs who are doing collaboration brilliantly.
1. Beauty Kitchen and ReRe - Founder Jo-Anne Chidley was on the panel with me and whilst I knew all about Beauty Kitchen, the award-winning natural and sustainable beauty brand, I didn’t know about her other venture, ReRe which is a buy anywhere, return anywhere, reuse anywhere alternative to single-use packaging.
“I know that if somebody buys our products over other beauty products, because of the analysis that we've done, you're going to be more sustainable. But that isn't really a nice thing to say. But I then engage with the industry by trying to help other businesses within the beauty industry make some of these simple changes. And that was really where the reusable packaging aspect came into play.”
Beauty Kitchen was unsurprisingly the first company to use this and show it was commercially viable, but it is now being used by Unilever, with other beauty brands in the works and the potential to extend to other FMCG categories. Clearly Jo-Anne and Beauty Kitchen could have just kept to themselves and worked on their own packaging, but as a sustainability pioneer Jo-Anne has taken her work out to the rest of the industry to make it better. And is building a second business in the process.
2. Library of Things and Platform Places - I love Library of Things (possibly because I’m a fangirl of libraries in general) - a female-founded social enterprise on a mission to make borrowing better than buying. They have 11 locations across London and their co-founder Rebecca Trevalyan has just launched a second venture, Platform Places.
“I started this with a group of partners last year, because I'd learnt from experience that one of the biggest barriers to Library of Things & many of our peers starting and growing is the lack of access to affordable, secure & long-term space in our communities. And I'd heard from councils and asset owners that they wanted fresh ideas that created social value, vibrancy and viability for high streets.”
Platform Places aims to bring buildings into community use or ownership, for local benefit, for the long term. Again, Library of Things could have just continued to work on getting buildings for themselves, but instead with Platform Places are collaborating to help others and re-invigorate our high streets.
Both examples demonstrate that it’s not just collaboration for ‘the greater good’. It’s actually diversifying the social entrepreneur’s work and providing a new commercial opportunity too.
I can’t think of a better demonstration of my favourite saying “Doing Well by Doing Good”.
“We have a long way to go, if we stick together great things can happen" - Jo-Anne Chidley, Founder, Beauty Kitchen
📚 Recommended reads and other good things:
Living Wage Foundation increases rates amidst cost of living crisis - I’m a huge advocate of the Living Wage Foundation and think paying your staff - and supply chain - fairly is the number one thing any organisation can do to be good. If you’re not accredited, read their recent research on the devastating challenges low-paid workers are facing, and then get your company to sign up.
Female entrepreneur competition #ialso100 - another one for the female founders reading this (I will find something soon for the guys, sorry!) Deadline’s today so needs a rapid turnaround but looks like great PR.
Two October events - first up, an evening with Greta Thunberg for the launch of The Climate Book on 30 October. Still a few in-person tickets left for Southbank Centre but it will also be streamed online. Second, sustainable business membership group The WIP are hosting a 3-day sustainable business summit 20-22 October in London. Plus In Good Company (my company) is a partner!
💡 Final thought for the week:
NGL, with everything going on in the world, it can be easy to feel despair. So I’m going back to this - what small, daily things we can each do to be kinder to those around us. I have an IRL meetings today so I’m going to stop by a food bank donation point whilst out. And remember to put my phone away, and instead smile and engage with the people around me.
What will you do?
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