No matter what your business is, all businesses usually have a common goal or "endgame" when they start -- for me it was getting my product on store shelves. Getting in the door of a major retailer is a big enough goal in and of itself, but when I launched my company, I was working for a triple bottom line. At the end of the day, I didn't just want my ledger to be in the black and growing; I was focused on growing people, planet and profits.
Bringing the first botanical rodent repellent certified for indoor use to market was unusual to say the least. Pest control was a 2 billion-dollar business and 90 percent of the products available were poisons and traps. Yet research showed that 70 percent of people didn't want to use either of those options in their homes. The market seemed to align with my goals of getting chemicals out of homes and making the earth a kinder place, but there were many obstacles along the way.
Retailers were satisfied with the success they had seen selling kill methods of pest control and consumers needed convincing that natural options would work. As if that weren't enough, I was a shy farm wife in North Dakota who had to prove to the EPA that my product could deliver on its promise.
Seven years later, the company that began around my kitchen table has created more than 40 million in revenue and has six products being sold into 50,000+ stores! And we've never once taken our eyes off our original mission -- a triple bottom line -- people, planet, profits.
I owe a debt of gratitude to the Ernst & Young Winning Women Program, and I was able to make a small payment by speaking at EY's Strategic Growth Forum last month. The question EY asked was how, at a time when only 20 percent of scaling companies are profitable, we manage not only to make a profit, but do so while holding onto our vision of being a socially conscious, purpose driven company.
Refuse any offers that don't match your mission.
The desire to grow and succeed is sometimes counterintuitive to the decisions you may face.
When a large retailer offered me a quarter of a million-dollar deal and I refused, they looked at me like I was crazy. I wondered if maybe they were right. They asked me to create a plastic clam shell for our product, but that went against our mission. As a result, we had to up our game.
What they really wanted was packaging with high shelf appeal. Their job was to get customers to pick up our product -- and in the end, profit was certainly one of our missions too. So we went back to the drawing board. We had to find a way to please the retailer without comprising our core values. We created a sustainable package that fit their audience AND our mission.
Staying on point and on purpose will result in growth and belief in your vision.
Some people just don't get it -- and it's okay to walk away from them.
When we decided that we needed to lower our carbon footprint, we made a decision to move our manufacturing facility out of our home state. We weren't happy about leaving home, but we knew the decision matched our principles. Our manufacturing facility had to be closer to our suppliers and our customers. We were working with two lenders at the time. One came to us and said we had 48 hours to change our minds or they'd cancel our loan. They didn't care about our carbon footprint, since their mission was different than ours. It was scary. We needed that funding. Fortunately, the other bank aligned with our goals. Today, they're still with us, and given our growth, I think they're pretty happy about that too!
You need to know that there are partners out there who see the bigger picture. There are capital providers who make it a point to invest in B-Corps and socially conscious companies. You don't have to compromise your values to find funding.
A blueprint for success.
A company with employees who believe in its purpose and retailers who don't just understand your vision, but want to be a part of it, along with lenders who see that doing good can also be good for business will help you meet the triple bottom line.
By 2020, millennials will be 50 percent of the purchasing population. Research shows that they're likely to pay more for products that are made responsibly. And just as importantly, they want to work for companies that care about the impact they're having on the environment. The millennials are our future and as the CEO of a company that revolves around creating a kinder earth, I can't wait to hear what they have to say.
To hear more about how socially driven companies are succeeding, please tune into our EY panel discussion from last month, Entrepreneurs and the triple bottom line. Growing a better future begins with you!