Dear founders, it’s time to stop doing business and start being human

One of the highlights for many at Happy Startup Summercamp 2014 was a short workshop ran by Kees Klomp simply titled ‘Buddhism in business’ (admittedly words you wouldn’t usually associate with one other).

But then again, at The Happy Startup School we like to challenge conventional thinking and do things differently.

First and foremost, Kees’ session got people thinking about compassion, and how we can bring more of this into the work we do and the businesses we build.

Everything, he says, starts with compassion for others.

Amazingly, as people had only just met, there were heartfelt stories, tears and group hugs (it sounds heavy I know but it didn’t feel that way at all). This was just the start of what turned out to be a life changing event for many. The display of openess was something I’d not experienced in such short time — no doubt due to Kees’ warmth and of course, compassion.

Powerful stuff.

Making money AND doing good

The idea of compassion being mentioned in the same breath as business certainly goes against the current media view of the corporate world.

Too often people assume entrepreneurs go into business with the sole aim of making money – with everything else taking a back seat. We build companies with growth, and exit, in mind.

It typically goes like this:

  • Company sets out with the right intentions
  • Investors come on board
  • Decisions are made to maximise short-term shareholder value
  • Values (if they exist) are compromised
  • Profits soar
  • Any decisions that benefit the company long-term are questioned
  • Company becomes more successful
  • The culture takes a backseat as more structures are put into place, workplace meaning is in short supply
  • Values are laminated not lived
  • Company decides it time to give something back
  • CSR (corporate social responsibility) policy is put into action
  • And so it goes…

But while it’s admirable that large companies want to make a difference and feed back into the communities that they operate in, for far too many of these ‘do good’ initiatives it’s either insincere or too little too late.

And the purpose is an afterthought rather than embedded in the true fabric of the organisation.

There has to be a better way.

What if we went out into business with the aim of making money AND doing good from the outset?

What we if embedded both profit AND purpose in the DNA of our companies?

And is ‘business hippy’ really the best name for this new breed of entrepreneur? (We’re guessing not..)

“More of the economy needs to move further up Maslow’s hierachy of needs” Alain Du Button

Company karma

At this year’s camp we’re lucky to have Christian Stadil, Danish serial entrepreneur and owner of the sports brand Hummel, sharing his story about doing business the right way. Christian has written a number of books including Company Karma which he describes as follows:

"We live in a world that becomes increasingly smaller, more transparent and interconnected. One can choose to see this connectedness as something negative or as something positive; we use it to draw us closer to the people we work with, to tear down silos and think more holistically of the things we do.
So you can call company karma a kind of CSR version 3.0 where we try to, where possible, think more holistically, in a 4 x win where our companies, customers, partners and a cause, in which we believe and find important, all benefit."

Being human

Thankfully there’s a growing movement of people that want to do business differently. Startup founders and leaders that are more focused on a legacy, rather than exit, strategy.

And they start with compassion. By understanding the people they are serving, they’ll develop a stronger bond with their audience, and a more resilient organisation.

It’s time to stop doing business as we know it and start being human.

When we act with empathy and integrity the business takes care of itself.

Start now

Watch this short film with Kees Klomp and get inspired to reach a place where money meets meaning. Enjoy.

We have freed up a number of last minute spaces at this year’s Summercamp which takes place on the weekend of 18–20 September 2015 just 1 hr from London (UK). Join 100 other purpose-driven people and get inspired to live a more meaningful life. Find out more and book your place hereOr if you can’t make it to the event then get access to all talks and interviews from the event with Summercamp plugged-in.