From Four Generations to a Certified B Corporation: Care, Innovate and Collaborate
The end goal of a company is always attaining success. But there are two burning questions business owners have to ask themselves: What does success mean? How will we get there?
The answers to those two questions will define nearly every aspect of your company, from its financial strategy to its marketing. For Claire Watkin, that meant doing more than just pumping up the bottom line. Instead, it meant doing things better and doing them right.
Claire Watkin is the Managing Director of Trendsetter International, a certified B Corp. They've dedicated themselves to providing a better night's sleep through quality bedding and sustainable products. However, few businesses are initially able to meet the exacting standards of B Corp. The key to becoming a business for good relies on evolution.
Do Different; Do Better
Finding a business strategy that works and sticking to it without changing is tempting — if it works, why fix it? However, for Claire Watkin, the journey to success meant continually improving the company. Every company aims to offer quality products, but Trendsetter took it a step further. Their unique story also involved showing their customers that they cared about the environment too.
As Claire says, "You've got to be sure that what you've got and what you're offering to others is offering value something different. You've got to have that confidence that you've got something different, and you've got a different story to tell."
Working on the Ground
Evolving your business requires improving your understanding of it. For Claire, that began when she worked on the ground in Trendsetter's factories, allowing her to see the working conditions there and how raw materials were made. It also gave her hands-on experience with the companies that Trendsetter supplied.
Analyzing a company from the bottom up can also help business owners see problems in the company. This kind of assessment aims isn't to punish the people responsible, but to find areas for improvement.
Level Up Your Business
This ground-up analysis will push a company to evolve. The Trendsetter International of today is radically different from what it was fifteen years ago. Leveling up a business is about constant change; it's a journey that you walk with everyone in the company.
Claire Watkin on Qualifying for B Corp
Although your company may push for better environmental impact, a business can be challenging to analyze with one metric alone. In Trendsetter's case, they had multiple certifications, such as being part of the ISO 14,001 and the Better Cotton Initiative.
Every business has areas where it can improve, such as energy efficiency or how it sources its materials. Trendsetter International started by using 30% renewable energy, but in 2016, they aimed for 100%. Using efficient and renewable energy was an investment that reduced power costs while decreasing Trendsetter's environmental impact.
"Our business was always focused on doing things the right way. And talking to our customers about what we were doing, talking to our teams about what we were doing, working with suppliers very closely to help them improve their working standards."
But, in keeping with the theme of continuous improvement, Trendsetter elected to aim for B Corp Certification.
Assessing their business with those metrics meant they discovered that some of the things they didn’t think important were actually critical to their impact on people and the planet.
A Learning Journey
But it wasn't just the B Corp standards that helped them evaluate where their business stood in terms of impact. Meeting other companies that decided to elevate their standards and learning from them helped push Trendsetter International to improve. The business landscape is changing; any company that hopes to survive must adapt to the times despite the challenges of an evolving and challenging market.
Some questions to ask about your company include:
Who's involved in decision-making?
Who’s involved in ensuring that the company meets its sustainability targets?
How do you report on your company’s impact?
Improving a company involves challenging current norms and redefining the thought process behind your business decisions. As Claire puts it, “Well, that's one way of doing things, but we can do it differently. And we can do it better.”
However, it doesn't end with one assessment. As the market evolves, so do the standards of B Corp certification. According to Claire, B Corp certification shouldn't be reduced to a marketing tool. Instead, it should be a special kind of different that encourages more companies to join the effort toward helping keep the environment healthy. Sustainability needs will change as more businesses enter the market and new technologies arise.
Furthermore, as a company scales, what kind of environmental impact will it make? New investments, products, or services can dramatically change a company’s environmental footprint.
Balancing Purpose and Profit
But every company needs to manage its resources carefully to ensure that it survives and thrives. Sustainability is a worthwhile goal, but the company has to profit for it to enact its vision.
Trendsetter International’s success involved detailed planning beginning long before a year began. They also monitor themselves throughout the year using several financial and performance measures. Their self-assessment isn’t generalized either. Their forecasting goes into every detail of their business, down to the product level. This in-depth analysis helps them get a clear picture of their costs and what they should do to progress in the future.
Because they manage their finances so carefully, they can reinvest their profits into the business to help them move forward. Investing back into your company is critical, especially now: Claire predicts challenging times ahead. It's vital to keep any momentum you have, maintain flexibility and agility. Adaptability is also another critical element for success.
Elevating Your Definition of Success
Careful management of their finances is crucial to Trendsetter International's success. Even if you have a great business model that scales well into the future, making financial decisions that stay aligned with your original vision can be challenging.
At Profit Reimagined™, our mission is to help women in business and businesses for good survive, thrive, and succeed so that they can effect a positive change in their communities. Our virtual CFO first ensures that we understand and empathize with your vision and the change you want to see. We know you want to do something greater than make a profit. You've envisioned a better world — and we want to help you make that vision real.
We offer virtual CFO services that aim to help you devise financial strategies in line with your company’s purpose so that you can balance purpose and profit. Schedule a call with us at theprofitreimagined.com/lets-chat.