Can corporate social responsibility build your business? Paul Klein thought so when he quit his job in 2001 to become a social responsibility consultant—a move he now calls “very self-destructive.”
Klein believed he could help corporations serve social causes and make money doing it. He was encouraged to see little competition in the niche. However, he quickly realized this was due to a lack of demand—companies simply weren’t interested. It took him more than a decade to build Impakt into a thriving consultancy. Today, the company’s roster of clients includes Canada Post and Starbucks.
Despite a long struggle, Klein isn’t sorry he took the leap, and has written a story for ForbesImpakt. The company helps corporations and not-for-profits become what Klein calls “social purpose leaders.”
Klein’s 8.75 keys to success are:
1. It’s not about money. “You may not get rich from being in business, but you’ll be a richer person. And that’s worth a lot,” writes Klein.
2. There’s no right time. You can’t eliminate risk when launching a business. “Your reputation won’t ever be big enough, you won’t ever be the most sought-after expert in your field, you won’t ever have enough sales leads, and you won’t ever have enough money in the bank,” he writes.
3. The plan is, there is no plan. Klein believes that building a business or marketing plan creates false confidence. “Your idea of the right course of action isn’t likely to be very objective. So instead of spending too much time pretending you can chart an accurate course, just get on with it.”
4. It’s good to be (a bit) nervous. Klein says you shouldn’t be afraid, but being nervous can be helpful. “The combination of adrenaline and creativity will propel you to go above and beyond in ways that simply wouldn’t happen if things were too easy.”
5. The only barriers are your own. “There’s no limit to what you can do, so take the brakes off,” writes Klein.
6. Make it remarkable. “Too much in business is earnest but boring,” he says. Why start your own company if you’re not going to do something new and exciting?
7. It’s not good enough. If you remember to ask yourself at every turn whether what you’ve just done is good enough, you’ll be surprised how often it isn’t.
8. Hang out with different people. Sometimes the people closest to you don’t really get what you’re trying to do, says Klein. Find people who do and spend time with them.
8.75. When Impakt was struggling, Klein basically assured himself that he couldn’t fail. He quotes Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, a Dr. Seuss classic: “And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed!”
Klein’s tips should be taken with one fairly sizable grain of salt: Klein’s measure of success is how well he’s been able to spread his message that social change is good for business. In his story for Forbes, he admits that, while he has built a very strong brand in Impakt, he has yet to establish a very profitable business.
What do you think? No plan, no problem? Just believe in yourself? Leave your comments below.