Josh Lannon standing in front of an image of his name.

How to Build a Business with Purpose

Are you ready to solve one of life’s biggest problems? Start by building your business mission statement.

In last week’s blog post, my wife, Lisa, gave an introduction to what it means to be a social capitalist. In it, she touched on the cornerstone concepts of discovering your “why”, backing that discovery with a strong commitment, surrounding yourself with the right support system, dedicating through personal development, increasing your financial intelligence and mapping your road to success with a strong business plan. It’s the final piece that I wanted to discuss in this week’s post.

Paul Newman is probably best known as being one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. For over 40 years he amazed and dazzled audiences with his sharp wit, rugged good looks and star charisma. Today we can still marvel at his contributions on the silver screen.

But it’s not his acting that has left the greatest impact.

Paul Newman derived his greatest satisfaction from philanthropy. After his acting and subsequent racing careers, he had brought in more money than he needed to live comfortably. He used his influence to start Newman’s Own, Inc. in 1982.

Not only was his new venture one of the first companies to use all natural foods, but to this day it is still donating all of it’s after-tax profits and royalties to thousands of charities worldwide through Newman’s Own Foundation.

A Blueprint for Social Entrepreneurial Success

Ingredient #1: A feasible solution to a proven problem

As is often the case, social entrepreneurs tend to lead with their hearts. This stems from ingredient number two. However, simply having a big heart for a social cause won’t be enough to formulate success.

We opened the first Journey Healing Center in 2002. We learned through our research that rates of addiction were skyrocketing. Running parallel to the rates of addiction, substance abuse has risen even higher, and we’ve added locations to meet that demand. From 2007 to 2010, the number of marijuana users in the U.S. increased by 3 million, and between 2006 and 2010, the number of antidepressant prescriptions increased by 21 million. Sadly, only 2.6 million of the 23.5 million people in the U.S. get treatment for substance abuse. Of those, approximately half never completed their programs.

At our facilities, we’ve managed to see a completion rate of about 95 percent, which far surpasses national statistics. It’s due to a family-centered approach that focuses on achieving life balance and providing free, lifetime after-care.

To put it another way, we developed a proprietary and affordable solution to an obvious problem. After nearly a year of hard work, we’ve created a product that our “customers” wanted.

Ingredient #2: A powerful mission, or “why”

Why do you want to start your journey? Did you have a life changing experience that led you to this point? The culmination of three experiences did that for Lisa and me: my near death experiences as a result of alcohol abuse, Lisa’s taking a stand for herself (resulting in my positive experience in rehab, where I met our mentor and guide in this industry, Chris Spencer), and my dad’s gift of You Can Choose to Be Rich.

When those three things occurred, our vision became crystal clear. Those early experiences with the 24-hour hotline—the tearful calls of pain and then gratitude—enforced that we were on the right track.

Ingredient #3: A winning team

We learned that, while it’s ok to be a generalist to run an organization, it’s vitally necessary to hire specialists to handle things that aren’t within your strengths. If your strengths lie in applying basic principles and managing the team, you should hire a team that possesses other traits. You’ll also require a team that’s as committed to your mission as you are. Do they handle themselves with integrity and professionalism? Do they pay attention to detail? Are they the best in understanding their subject area?

Ingredient #4: A fundamentally sound business plan

According to Xavier Helgeson, co-founder of Book Drives for Better Lives, it’s far easier to start with the economic opportunity you’ve identified, and make sure the business is engineered to target your cause, rather than, ‘My social goal is X,’ and then trying to make the business model fit.

Better World Books has been hailed as a prime example of a business model that works, precisely because it does exactly this—capitalizes on people’s normal buying habits (buying books online) by turning that purchase into a benefit for society. TOMS Shoes, Grameen Bank, and dozens of others bear out this truth.

Key to establishing a business model that spells success is drafting a thorough, comprehensive business plan. Again, this is no different from starting any business, even when a social mission is in play.

Note that this is what Rich Dad’s B/I Triangle is all about: Too many people get caught up in the product. While product is important, everything else in the B/I Triangle supports the product, and not the other way around.

Rich Dad's B/I Triangle

Ingredient #5: Personal development

Lisa and I made a commitment to constantly improve ourselves using the Rich Dad principles as our guide. We know we’re never going to “arrive”, we’re always going to learn. In fact, we study more now than we did in school. Why? The subjects we’re studying now are subjects we’re interested in. We can see the positive affects every day.

Are you looking to not only change the world but change your life? Take a look at our book The Social Capitalist to learn more about our story from mayhem to mission.

Original publish date: August 20, 2018