I know what you’re thinking.
You see the title of this post and you see who wrote it and you just might assume that I’m going to ask everyone to join hands and sing Kumbaya. Again.
Maybe you figure that idealism is all well and good for pink-haired bleeding hearts, but it doesn’t pay the bills.
Sure, it’s great to donate and volunteer and do pro bono work … later. Right now, you’re trying to make the cashflow work. Right now, you need to take care of your family. Idealism is going to have to wait until you can afford it.
I totally understand this line of thinking, because I used to think the same way. The only problem is, getting trapped in this mindset will keep you broke.
Because if you think that idealism is something that you choose instead of making money, you’re kind of missing the boat.
How to make more money
Q: How do you increase your business’s bottom line?
A: You get more customers, or you start charging a price that generates more profit.
Q: But how do you do either (or both) of those things?
A: You find a way to help more prospects to become customers, or you do a better job helping your existing customers.
The bigger the problem you can solve or the more people you can solve it for, the more money you stand to make. That’s the fundamental principle behind a good value proposition. Simple, even if it isn’t always easy.
Where we can sometimes go off track
Somewhere along the line, it gets hard. No matter how great your ideas or how mad your skills, you’ll have some tough weeks.
That’s when it can be easy to decide that the whole “being good” thing can wait for a better week to come along.
You know what happens next. Companies start to cut corners, or abuse their employees (who then go on to abuse their customers). What used to be cool and delightful gets a little … less delightful.
Those companies aren’t evil. (Well, most of them aren’t.) They’re just focused — just like you might be.
When you want and need money, you focus on what can make more of it for you. And if you aren’t careful, you can forget that the best way to increase profits is to help more people.
You might start to make decisions based on spreadsheets.
Which is another way to say you start to make decisions based on fear.
You ask, “How can we make these numbers add up in a better way?” And when you do that, the idealistic vision you started with begins to look like a naive dead end.
Let’s talk about a real business
Is it a good financial move to pay four or five times the going rate for African jewelry if you want to resell it in America?
Business 101 says we’ve got to control costs. Helping the vendors or artists you buy from is nice if you’re a billionaire with good hair like Richard Branson. But it looks pretty unrelated to your business’s profitability.
But take a look at what Keza does every single time it works with an artist in, for example, Rwanda. They do, in fact, pay their artists more than the going rate. A lot more. And they make a big profit on every sale.
The artists win. Keza wins. And the win is bigger than that, because Keza’s two missions are to improve Africa’s image in the eyes of the West (eyes that are used to only seeing misery and disease in charity commercials) and to bring the continent some of that “trade, not aid” that Nelson Mandela and Bono keep talking about.
Keza could have leveraged the different costs of living, as many companies do, for easy profit. Paid the street value of pennies and come back home to sell the necklaces for dollars.
From the spreadsheet perspective, that would have made good financial sense. Spend less, make more. Worry about profits now; worry about helping Africa later.
That gets you to being Cost Plus. Which is, I’m sure, a perfectly nice company. But it’s not a remarkable one.
Keza is nothing like Cost Plus.
Keza gets its jewelry into red carpet events, and luxury stores like Barney’s. They’re not chasing the lowest common denominator — they’re finding work that’s exceptional, and delivering it to the wealthiest buyers on the planet.
Keza has a better product, and it tells a better story.
Without Keza’s idealistic mission, its great win-win-win story, and a superior product, could it achieve the high status and esteem required to sell at those high prices?
The perfect balance: Profitable Idealism
If you’ve read any of my posts or taken my courses, you know I’m big on win-win.
I’m not willing to “leverage” when that means that I make a lot and someone else gets a crummy deal. I don’t feel good if my kid is thriving at the expense of someone else’s kid.
In fact, my kind of thinking led a lot of people to tell me I’d never be really successful — that I didn’t have the killer instinct.
No one tells me that any more. (Not, you know, that I’d gloat or anything. Because that would be wrong.)
So ANYWAY, when our own Johnny B. Truant and fellow Copyblogger contributor Pace Smith announced Profitable Idealism, I may or may not have attempted some celebratory cartwheels. It wasn’t very dignified, but fortunately no one was watching except the cat.
What’s Profitable Idealism?
Profitable Idealism is a comprehensive guide to creating a business that makes money (maybe even big money) and makes the world a better place.
I’ve known Johnny and Pace for a couple of years now, and I think they’re the right people to teach this course. They both have highly profitable businesses, and they both have a mission to change the world in their own unique way. (They’ve also brought in a bunch of brainy, wise folks to help teach the course — I know nearly everyone involved, and they’re all amazing.)
Johnny started with the profit side of things and Pace began as an idealist, but they ended up in the same place: with businesses that succeed because they’re focused not just inward, but also outward.
They put Profitable Idealism together because there’s more to creating a profitable idealist business than just slapping a charitable venture on top of your existing business. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll end up with an “idealist” side that drains time and money from your business instead of bolstering it. Or, you’ll end up doing a lot of good, but will find yourself unsatisfied and unable to find the true win-win that allows you to make any money for yourself.
Pace, Johnny, and their six detailed case studies (Jared Angaza from Keza is one of them) can show you how to do it right, so that you end up with an entity that truly helps everyone … including you.
(And if you don’t put yourself into the equation, my friend, that’s not idealism … it’s just being a chump.)
Copyblogger is happy to be a marketing partner for Profitable Idealism and the links on this page are affiliate links. As you’ll find if you spend any time with us, we don’t back anything we don’t believe in — and this course couldn’t possibly fit better with our “Third Tribe” approach.
The course consists of:
- Five live course sessions with Q&A,
- Six case studies of profitable idealist role models that you can steal all kinds of great ideas from,
- Extensive interaction, and …
- … if you beat tomorrow night’s pre-registration deadline — a shot at one of 114 great bonuses.
Pre-registration for Profitable Idealism ends tomorrow, Tuesday 2/22, at 11:59pm Pacific time. After that time, the price of registration goes up by $200 (which is still actually a really good deal), so if you want in, now’s the time!
Check out Profitable Idealism today. Learn how to make more money, and change the world.
About the Author: Sonia Simone is co-founder and CMO of Copyblogger Media. Share your idealistic insights with her on twitter.
No, really, you’ll spend a lot more money if you wait until after tomorrow. Go check it out now.