Guest post by Carmel McConnell MBE is a change maker and author of Change Activist: Make Big Things Happen Fast
You’re an entrepreneur. You’re in tech. So far so good. You want to succeed, make everyone proud, perhaps create the neatest tech solution ever. Make a ton of profit and start living the life. And you also want to feel like you’re giving something back,
making a difference.
If any of that sounds true, I have a strategy for you. It’s really simple, a bit like walking. One foot on the ground, after profit, one foot, putting principles into action. Put your weight on one, then another and keep going in every pitch, every product, every meeting.
Grow your business with “profits & principles” Carmel McConnell
Have we got weight on profit as well as demonstrating our principles? Are we pushing hard for growth and offering our most profitable products to the hungriest parts of the market? Are we going for justice, for climate change, for feeding children in the hungriest parts of the country around us?
Yes, I hear you say, we already do all that. We work hard, give as much as we can away. Great – but is it articulated in a strategy to build more trust than the competition? Your USP in a fast, transparent global marketplace directly correlates with trust. Do you build trust or destroy it? Can your customers rely on you when it comes to timescales, service, care?
Do your team believe that when you say you’ll do something, you actually will? I believe that trust is really the only USP with currency today. Someone else, somewhere else is going to be all over your IP at some point, all over your functionality, your app genius. But no one can take away the relationships
you build and sustain through trust.
Profit and principle as a mindset will define your USP. Social activists are great role models for making change happen. In my view, the bringers of social change, the activists, have always been smarter and faster than suits, haven’t they? Think about what Nelson Mandela was able to do and the poor guy didn’t even have TikTok.
The person who can negotiate a national living wage with a government wanting to know how to tax avoiders is going to be one hell of a girl – same in the marketplace.
Prove you can deliver the system to solve our logistics problems and also give us a carbon reduction advisory – great. You’re in. Deliver a fast SD-Wan and guess what – for every single one installed in your office, we’ll put one into the nursery down the road and the charity up the street at 50% off. Actually, this strategy is paying dividends already for a one young tech firm that I am having big fun working with.
Their MD, Alex Halsall is seeing his business grow as clients welcome his more compassionate pitch, saying “we offer a readymade charity strategy, recognising that many of our customers are small businesses, and don’t have much capacity. People trust us more knowing we actively help others on lower budgets access the same IT products”
My own random career might help shed some light on what it is and why it works! My background is in tech, broadband specifically, and I ran a consultancy helping firms deliver tech value, with values. While out doing some research, I found out about children going to school too hungry to learn & I set up Magic Breakfast in the UK (www.magicbreakfast.com) which now feeds over 200,000 vulnerable
children every day in 1,000 schools.
Right now, apart from mentoring charity leaders scale up, avoid my (many) mistakes, I work with tech leaders, increasing revenue by finding the sweet spot – customer centric growth that allows for a rich outpouring of social value along the way.
It’s a workout for the soul of the business, to focus on the best market opportunities, while tackling our most urgent social / racial /climate-based problems. As a proud Irishwoman, my hope is that the Irish tech sector will not only grow intellectual might on the global stage, but also lead from the heart, be role models for tech 4 good, taking action for a fairer society. What do you think?
As an increasing number of children face food insecurity, we are more grateful than ever to those who support us ?
— Magic Breakfast (@magic_breakfast) September 27, 2022
Profit through principles – the personal bit
The other important aspect of profit through principles is looking at yourself. Are you true to yourself, or playing a role? Does your personal leadership brand inspire trust or not so much? If you want to make personal profit with principles, maybe look at how much of your life is lived out as the true you. My advice is very simple, in three stages – based on the common attributes of successful social activists.
Start everything you do from your passion. Know who you are and what you stand for. What do you care most about? Ask your loved ones if nothing emerges
What direction do those values point you toward? What’s your purpose, your mission in life. How as a leader will you serve others, create meaningful change?
What’s the most compelling outcome if your leadership succeeds? Where are you headed? And how will you help yourself and others get there.
So, I hope this helps you grow, get the mindset, walk the walk of profit and principles. If it’s still hard to imagine, think about this. Imagine someone saying that for your business to grow, you have to be dedicated to social justice, meet the challenge of climate change, support more charities. How would that feel – that you were running a charity yourself, maybe?
Or equally, if someone said, forget about looking after your people, get the investors onboard for short term profit and exit stage left asap with a fistful of fivers. How would that feel – a bit cutthroat? A bit 1970s? Walking requires
two feet and successful tech growth requires both profit and principle. They are mutually reinforcing and moving together, in sync, and will give you the kind of sustainable growth you deserve.
Carmel McConnell MBE is a change maker and author of Change Activist: Make Big Things Happen Fast, published by Pearson, out now, priced £9.99
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