Sustainable Business Learning Community Conversations, May 2014 - June 2014

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Sustainable Business, June 26, 2014 Topic: Choosing Criteria to Improve Your Business's Environmental Margins

The criteria we set help to inform our choices that determine our business's environmental bottom line

How do you choose actions or make choices as it relates to your environmental bottom line? What criteria do you use to make these decisions?

  • Cost:
    • How much for implementation?
    • How much for maintenance?
    • End of life of the product; how much for reuse, recycling or disposal? How does this impact the environment?
    • Taking the “cradle to cradle” view; cost is not just financial but also environmental.
  • What is involved in end of life disposal? Are there machines or specialized tools involved? solvents? Are they safe and affordable?
  • Liability; are there any particular liabilities involved with the product you’re using or action you’re taking?
  • Transportation: Is it local? How far away? How much energy is required to get the product to you? Were you aware that ships use less energy moving products overseas than trucks use to ship the same across the US?
  • Installation skills required? Do people know how to install or work with the materials/products you are using? Do they have the equipment to work with it? How much equipment do you need?
  • Security: Are there any security issues with the product/material? For example, people will steal copper pipes, but no one will steal green pipe.
  • Does your choice add to complexity? With greater complexity comes more chances for problems. Installation costs can be really high with complex products.
  • What’s the carbon footprint of the material you are using? Consider manufacture and transportation.
  • Energy involve in making a product
  • Toxicity
  • Waste: can you design to reduce waste? Can you order in sizes that result in less waste in the end?
  • How long has a product been used? What’s its track record? Predictability and reliability?
  • Health, safety and well-being of workers making the product: What do we know about the manufacturing process of the product or material you are using? Are the workers involved in manufacture suffering or being exploited? Are they being paid a fair salary?
  • What about the company who manufactures a product/material? What’s their commitment to their workers and the environment? How strictly and consistently do they adhere to their own standards? How transparent are they? This can be easily researched. As companies become more global, it is worth your time to start looking into companies and their products and to learn about standards outside the US, as well.


Here's an example of the kind of decision that had to be made for the El Moore project:

Decking material had to be selected for the rooftop at the El Moore. Their options were: wolmanized lumber, cedar, Trex, Nylodeck - 4 different materials. How do they determine which one to select? Here are some of the questions they considered in the decision making process:

  • Manufacturing process: how is the product made/created? How much energy is involved in manufacture? It involves energy; if it is a wood product, has it been sustainably harvested?
  • FSC Certification for sustainably harvested lumber; it's easy to find FSC certified lumber in CA, but not so much in the Midwest. It can be ordered, but then you are using energy to truck it across the country just for you and the cost of the FSC lumber is much higher. Where is the additional money going that you are paying? You are paying for administrative/overhead costs for this kind of wood.
  • Wolmanized wood is chemically treated. This means there is a toxicity problem. At the end of this material's life, how are you going to get the chemicals out of that wood? Answer is, you can’t :(
  • Trex is a product that recycles plastic and mixes it with wood shavings. What’s the material they use for binding? Is it toxic? Can it break down? It's good that they are recycling plastic, but is it re-recyclable? How many times can this material be re-used?. Is it benign? Also, be aware that there is a class action suit against Trex relative to the durability of the product - it is failing in certain cases.
  • Nylodeck: this made out of carpeting that’s been recycled. It's a brand new product so things like durability, reliability and safety are unknown. It is very expensive right now, about 3X the cost of cedar. Where do manufacturers get the raw material? Because of its strength, you can reduce the number of stringers you use in installation, which will cost you less. But what is it bound with?


Vote with your dollars! One of the biggest influences we have as business owners is knowing where our dollars are going. Who are you supporting? What are they doing to the environment? To their workers? Our choices can make a powerful impact.


How to go about it:

  1. Begin by identifying your values.
  2. Define the criteria that best fit your values. What are you willing to live with? What are you NOT willing to live with? Your criteria should reflect those things you are not willing to compromise (examples: workers being hurt or taken advantage of, toxic materials being put into air and water, etc).
  3. Educate yourself; you have the competency to evaluate and understand a lot of information yourself, and Google can be very helpful here. But if you need additional help, seek out people who have expertise in a particular area.
  4. Make your choice, a well thought out and informed choice (recognize that not every choice will be the perfect solution).
  5. Communicate that decision with your suppliers/contractors/business associates.


The ripple effect: Getting lean and clean in your own business can lead to you helping other businesses get lean and clean, too. These supportive and strong relationships can create ripple effects that lead to more and more people thinking about sustainability in their businesses, as well. The actions you take can have a real and measurable impact.

Ideally, suppliers and customers should work together on promoting sustainable business practices. They should enter into the learning process together, helping one another to make better decisions for their business, their community and the environment.

Sustainability should be for everybody, wherever you are. Everyone can make simple changes, regardless of the amount of money they have to invest. This is a civic responsibility.

Sustainable Business, June 12, 2014 Topic: Healthy Workplaces

Comments from last week - Reducing Our Ecological Footprint:

  • Sustainable practices might cost a bit more up front, but businesses can save money in the long run and even attract more business.
  • Be aware that sometimes businesses say they recycle but they don’t. Ask for a receipt so you see that they took material somewhere to be reused or recycled.
  • Throw-away culture: We are a culture that seems to value quantity and disposable products. In earlier times, people focused more on quality and didn’t throw things away as we do. We’ve lost the sense and knowledge of reusing things in our culture - we are led to believe that we need to buy everything new.
  • Higher cost of a product might lead people to use less, reuse or recycle a product.
  • DIY programs show you ways you can reuse stuff; Pinterest is also a great DIY resource.
  • Making sustainable choices shouldn’t be something that only people with money can afford to do; sustainable choices should be available to everyone.
  • Advertising in our country tells us that we need to continually buy new. Fashion is an example; it changes so quickly that people feel they are required to buy new clothes to keep up with the latest styles.


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Today’s Topic: Healthy Workplaces

Some of the physical characteristics of a healthy work environment that we think are important:

  • Furniture designed to fit the work and the needs of the person.
  • Good lighting appropriate for tasks and that has a positive effect on mood.
  • Good control of temperature and humidity
  • Layout of office space needs to be balanced. There needs to be enough openness to encourage community and co-working and, at the same time, enough individual or private space for quiet work. Some workspaces use curtains that can be drawn to provide temporary private work space.
  • Access to the outdoors is important. Companies should encourage people to get outdoors, take a walk, get some sun.
  • Indoor and outdoor landscaping improves health and mood.
  • Be aware of the kind of furniture/floor covering you bring into the work space; VOC’s that come off new products can be harmful.
  • You can take some responsibility for your own comfort at work. Some people at the GG bring in their own chairs, cushions, blankets, slippers, etc.
  • Controlling noise levels, particularly in open work spaces, is important.


Other thoughts:

  • On leadership and a healthy work environment:
    • Recognize that people operate differently in their work environment - try to optimize for that.
    • Lead by example - talk walks with co-workers, breaks, yoga?
    • Allow people time to deal with personal issues without guilt.
    • Don’t permit negativity to permeate the work environment. Good moods lead to good health.
    • Allow for failures - treat them as learning experiences, as opportunities for innovation. Employees will be less stressed if they know that they can make a mistake from time to time.
  • Recognize that there are people who find it challenging to keep still for a long time. Modern work spaces can be designed to acknowledge your physical and mental needs and this leads to better productivity in the end.
  • Modern communication technology allows us to be in touch 24/7. This can be great because it reduces the need to be in the office for 40 hours per week, but you also need to put limits on how much access you’re going give people to yourself during your off hours. You have to be able to be off duty; there have to be boundaries. Many employers today are less concerned about how many hours you work than simply getting work done.
  • Quality of life: Its been part of our culture for a long time that businesses optimize for competition and growth, but not for enjoyment and health (European work culture seems to care a bit more about quality of life than we do). Are we able to encourage optimization for quality of life as well?
    • Optimize for your own mental, emotional and social capacities and those of the people you work with.
    • Be aware of others’ work capacities and styles. Some people like to work 9-5 each day; they like the structure and it helps to keep them focused. Others like to sprint and then rest for awhile.
    • Know what success means to you - is it money? prestige? joy?
    • Fulfill your own needs and interests - not all opportunities are meant for you. Fulfillment in work leads to good mental health.

Sustainable Business, June 5, 2014 Topic: Reducing Your Business's Ecological Footprint

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How does a small business reduce its ecological footprint?

  • There are 4 areas that come to mind when we talk about a business’s eco-footprint: energy, water, waste, toxicity.
  • Much of this is related to changing our habits and ways of thinking.
  • There is a lot of systems work that has been done in the area as well, permaculture, cradle to cradle, etc.


When you’re running a small business, making these kind of changes can seem overwhelming. How do you start - how do you begin to integrate environmental sustainability into your business? How do you know that you’re making progress?

  • You have to think about everything you do everyday in your work and how you might make changes that will reduce your eco-footprint. It can seem difficult to make changes in a world so heavily dependent on the old ways of doing things.
  • Baby steps: Don’t let yourself be overwhelmed from the start - you don’t have to (and shouldn’t even try to) implement changes all at once. Start with just one thing, one change, at a time. You will begin to learn, your employees will begin to learn, and a culture of caring for the environment will start to spread naturally.
  • Open up the dialogue: As you begin to make changes and step into the world of sustainability, a dialogue is opened up. You will inform others by your example, but others will inform you as well. Create an environment of openness and learning.
  • Systems approaches: Look at how your business fits into the broader framework. Example: While you design and manufacture a product, take into consideration its end of life - what would that look like? If you are designing residences, integrate recycling/composting systems into them to make it easier for residents to make that better choice.
  • Balance is the foundation of sustainability. The intersection of business, environment and community can be very complex and making changes in the movement toward sustainability can prompt many questions. There may not be a perfect answer to a particular problem - go for balance, find the best solution possible. It is sometimes necessary to find a middle ground between high-tech and low-tech options.
  • Leadership sets the tone: Business leaders have to create the culture within their company. Dig deep into each issue you tackle and really educate yourself. If you decide to take on recycling, you have to know if the things you put in your recycle bin are really recycled. Where does all that material go? Is it better to recycle something or find a way to reuse it? If good leadership is lacking, there will be big holes in your eco-footprint goals.
  • Give employees some control over their own work environments. Start a movement at work; get a few like-minded employees together and try to get some changes going.


Commuting: Many of us live in a place where we have to commute to and from work. How do we balance and weigh that? How do we measure the trade-offs? Can we make it easier for people to get to and from work without getting stressed?


Recycling:

  • Our consumer society: We have much more stuff than we’ve ever had in the past. The modern industrial model that incorporates planned obsolescence keeps people buying things. We need a paradigm shift - ask ourselves, how much do we really need in our lives?
  • Recycling, although better than sending things to a landfill, is not really the best answer; we only need recycling because we are overloaded with stuff. Long ago people didn’t need to recycle because nothing was wasted, they didn’t throw things out, didn’t have that many belongings.
  • Recycling is by definition a reaction to a failure in your planning process. When you fail to plan properly at the outset, you end up with material or by-products that need to be recycled.
  • Disposing of unwanted items or material: Many companies don’t have a process to recapture old materials from the items they manufacture. Finding a place for our unwanted stuff can be challenging and time consuming. Freecycle and Craig’s List are easy and convenient ways to pass along your unwanted stuff so that it can be reused.
  • Reduce first - then reuse - then recycle. This has stood the test of time.


The consumer culture:

  • How do businesses deal with our consumer society if we are trying to reduce consumption? Interface Carpet is a great example of how this can work. Their products are meant to last 100 years, and yet they are the leading carpet company in the world and have the strongest sustainability track record in the world. When you integrate sustainability at the front end of your business, your costs go down: design sustainably in the beginning will save you money at the end. If you design a higher quality vehicle, you won’t spend as much money at the end in repairs. This is the kind of systems design that allowed the Japanese to have so much success in the automotive industry.
  • Think about sustainability when your forming your business; also think about who might get hurt by how you do your business and about the end life of anything your business might produce.


Wrap-up:

  • Start first with yourself and your own habits. Think about what your business spends its money on, who the money is going to and what choices you are making with each dollar you spend. Remember that when you spend money, you are casting a vote. When your money follows a requirement, you can then have influence with businesses. With the Green Garage and the El Moore projects, they require certain products or used products; this takes effort and time to figure out and has resulted in a long list of people they buy from. Start with yourself and who you choose to do business with.


Sustainable Business, May 29, 2014 Topic: Sustainable Business and the Environment (First of a Series)

Comments from last week's conversation on Accountability:

  • Where there are problems in a business, the fault sometimes lies with managers who lack the necessary skills to train and coach employees, and not with the employees themselves.
  • Recognize that when you’re working with entrepreneurs, you will also be dealing with their life events because their personal lives are closely tied into their business endeavors.
  • Reassess people, go back to reevaluate what was accomplished, and whether or not they reached their goals. Work together with employees to create an early feedback loop.
  • Try to assess how you communicate and whether or not others understand what you are saying.
  • If you hire the right person for a job only 30% of the time, you are doing remarkably well. Hiring the wrong person isn’t a failure; failure lies in recognizing it not rectifying the situation.
  • Choose your work: There’s a difference between choosing your work responsibilities and having responsibilities assigned to you. There is a higher success rate if you choose you choose the jobs you take on rather than having them assigned to you.
  • Collaborate with management about your work responsibilities; know your limits, capacities.
  • We can categorize work responsibilities as: Like It, Hate It, Good at It, Not Good at It. When an employee is doing work that they may be good at but don’t like, as long as they know there will be an end to it, they will probably be ok with doing that work for awhile.
  • Very freeing for employees to be able to be honest with management about what they like to do and what they don’t like to do. Nobody wants a job full of tasks that they don’t like doing, and if you don’t like what you do, you probably won’t be performing well in your job.



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Topic today: Sustainable Business and the Environment (First of a Series)


Part of triple bottom line is impact on the environment: All businesses have an impact on the environment - some are aware of it and some are not. What aspects of business are related to the environment? How are businesses connected to the environment?

  • The more you raise consciousness of the importance of environment to your business and how you conduct your daily work, the more people will catch on to it. You might be surprised how much your community will truly care about environmental impact. Sometimes it’s the customers whose demands for more environmental responsibility drive change in a business.
  • Focusing on environmental care can lead to cost savings and is a way to engage your whole organization.
  • Know your recycling options - community recycling is often available, even if it isn't curbside pick-up!
  • Conservation vs alternative energy technologies: It’s best to start with passive design (or conservation) measures before implementing alternative energy technologies (solar, wind, geothermal, etc). Understanding the trade-offs is vital. Conservation might mean that you will have to work differently or make some changes, while alternative energy can simply be bought. Alternative energy is more “glamorous”; it’s visible - everyone can see it. However, if you upgrade your technology and begin to conserve, you won’t need to spend too much for new energy technology. Generally the most sustainable things are the least noticeable and least marketable and least exciting things; it’s less about image and ego, and more about conserving energy.
  • Sustainability in business is an organizational problem, a problem of culture. The Green Garage didn’t put motion detector on lights in bathroom so that people wouldn’t become passive about turning lights off.
  • Educate first. It’s hard to change people’s habits but we need to grow awareness. Education is vital to overcoming the many cultural pressures to buy new stuff - even if it’s environmentally friendly, free trade stuff.
  • Urban farming is a big movement in Detroit. But what about toxins in the soil? How do we inform people? There’s the visible green thing - local food is a good thing - but are we being truthful about the presence of heavy metals and toxins in the soil in our city? We should be getting the information out and letting people make their own decisions about growing food in their neighborhoods. Environmental assessments have to be done on all local soils in Detroit because of the presence in many places of lead paint, asbestos and other toxins. If toxins are found in soil, when it is dug up for construction, it has to be taken to a level 2 landfill and treated like a toxic substance. Point of interest, Highland Park has some of the cleanest soil in Detroit.
  • Thinking about businesses’ impact on the environment creates interesting opportunities for planning. We aren’t accustomed to think cradle to cradle, but if we do things intelligently, we reduce cost long term. Environmentalism in business is a phenomenal opportunity to think outside the box, to think differently.
  • We are just at the tip of the iceberg when it comes to environmentalism and businesses. Most people don’t have a deep understanding of how environment relates to their particular business.
  • Going paperless: this is much easier to do than you might think. Digital signing (Hello Sign) is increasingly popular - allows contracts to be prepared and signed digitally.
  • The concept of connecting environmentalism and business is growing in prevalence and the younger generation is probably more comfortable with the idea than older people, who might find it harder to adapt to new habits and new ways of thinking about how they do their work.
  • The general awareness and desire for people to be healthier in Detroit is high and increasing. There is a lot of interest in addressing the growing problem of upper respiratory issues in the city.

Sustainable Business, May 22, 2014 Topic: Accountability

Comments from last week's discussion of Building Social Capital:

  • People need to be invested in their own communities using the resources/businesses that are located there. Spend with purpose - keep money within your community.
  • Build a sense of non-competitiveness and interconnectedness within a community so that people support each other rather than compete against each other.
  • Get businesses to work hand in hand. Businesses can be community owned and operated - co-ops.
  • This is not a new paradigm. Long ago, working together wasn’t called a co-op, it was just community. People were segregated back then, by transportation, by culture. Many barriers have been broken down and people don’t HAVE to stay in their neighborhood anymore.
  • Bring communities back to the personal; we should know each other.
  • In neighborhoods where people don’t know each other well, or there is some level of distrust, bringing people together with planned activity (cleaning up a park, etc) is a great way to get everyone together. Simple activities can make a huge impact.
  • Move toward unity - keep the community whole.
  • 3 rules for a healthy community:
  1. Take care of yourself
  2. Take care with one another
  3. Take care of the group


Accountability is not Blame

Today’s topic : Accountability

Tom’s thoughts:

  • Accountability is not blame.
  • It starts with acknowledging that we are accountable first to ourselves.
  • Accountability is fundamental to our 3D businesses - we all impact our communities, the environment, we all impact the financial world.

So how do we understand accountability with regard to our businesses?


Amany on Launchgood: Launchgood is a platform to showcase all the good that is being done by the Muslim community.

  • How do you hold people accountable, especially if they are volunteers?
  • Should people be managed? Can you rely on them to manage themselves?
  • What structures should you build in for accountability?
  • What can you expect when you are working with youth volunteers?

Thoughts from our group:

  • Have regular and frequent check-ins. This holds people accountable and creates predictability. It’s better to have frequent check-ins rather than infrequent ones with harsh deadlines - stay on top of things.
  • Use skill assessment tools to tap into what people love to do. It’s much easier to hold people accountable when they love what they are doing.
  • Recognize that you cannot teach a sense of urgency to everyone.
  • Communicate your expectations clearly: Accountability is not about being harsh, but it’s about holding up a standard of excellence. Everyone wants to be part of something successful. Focus on not just the success of the business, but their success as well, and why they want to be connected to this work in the first place. Keep feedback positive.
  • Be clear on objectives: working with groups of people, volunteers and employees, what keeps them together is everyone knowing what your objectives are and what the end result should be.
  • Train people so they are equipped to do what you want them to do
  • Recognize that there is a learning curve - give people time to learn to do their job
  • A once a week standing meeting as a means of checking in.
  • You as leader set the tone - you are the steward of the situation
  • Organize your work and responsibilities so you can be accountable to yourself first. Learn how to manage your productivity.
  • There is a variety of software tools that can help you organize your work schedule and your ideas.
  • Understand the people working with you and meet them where they are.
  • Recognize that people need organization and structure under which to work. They need to know what the deadlines are and what is expected of them, as well as having the tools and the training to do the job they are hired to do.
  • When people fail to meet expectations in their work, 85% of the time it is due to failure in leadership (Deming); perhaps a lack of proper training or tools to do their job, not being given an idea of what success looks like, or simply not being qualified to do the job for which they were hired.
  • Systems must be in place: if you make a change or try to correct a problem and you don’t have the system in place, you will make the problem even worse.
  • Bring people to the table and have them become part of the problem solving process; empower people so that they can solve problems themselves.
  • Your management style needs to be authentic to who you are.
  • Inspire people - motivate them - make them feel they are part of something larger.

Sustainable Business, May 15, 2014 Topic: Building Social Capital

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How do you start to build trust with your community? How do you empower people you want to work with? How do we apply community context ideas to business?

Here are some ideas from our group:

  • When you offer help within a community do so without expectation of return to yourself.
  • Getting to know people within your community can take some effort. Try a variety of activities designed to help people get to know one another better.
  • Planned activities will bring people together more than just meetings. Try to plan activities that are specifically designed to build community, bring people together and allow them to get to know each other in a way that is comfortable and non-threatening for all.
  • We all want to break down barriers, but do you recognize the barriers that exist in your own mind?
  • Prep Work: Get to know a community before you try to do work there - build relationships and understanding first.
  • Important to have a really good understanding of the dynamics of the community in which you are living/working (social/economic/racial). These dynamics need to be understood and addressed in order to build healthy, trusting relationships within a community.
  • Empowering the community: Important to educate people to know how much power they truly have, let them know that they can effect change.
  • Having a variety of experiences yourself in other places/communities can be invaluable in learning to understand the diversity of people within your own community.
  • Get people within your community talking to one another - having insular groups doesn’t build cohesiveness. Building community relationships is an on-going process.
  • Facilitators: Sometimes it’s helpful to have facilitators to help build bridges within a community. Leadership is key and you need people with good leadership skills to help bring people together.
  • Fixers: People who have that really high energy level and are good at problem-solving and bringing people together. They serve as a conduit bringing others into the community. They protect the whole, the vision, and have an “us” mentality, one of unity.
  • Balance: Building social capital should be done in balance with your time and capital. You need to have a good understanding of how much you are able to commit to your community without it being a drain on your resources - know your capacities.
  • Respect: Work you do within a community should be done in partnership with them - they should feel respected and invested in the process. This empowers people and fosters dignity and positive relationships. You and your community members can learn from one another.
  • Although money is helpful, the biggest contribution you can make to a community is yourself - your time and your intellectual capital.
  • Time Banking: Barter system based on trading work hours and keeping track of those hours. This is a great way of building community cohesiveness and trust.


Q: What have you done in the past that has successfully helped to build trust within your community?

    • Networking - connecting people; introducing people who can be of mutual benefit to one another.
    • Teaching - when you share information and learning with others, you build connections.
    • Being reliable in business, that is, doing what you say you’re going to do and doing it in a timely fashion, establishes a standard of excellence and builds trust.
    • Giving credit (financial) to those who you believe in.
    • Connecting to community members without thought of immediate benefit to yourself; people remember that you demonstrated that level of commitment to them.



Sustainable Business, May 8, 2014 Topic: The Greater Purpose: Why We Do What We Do

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Topic this week: The Greater Purpose - Why do we do what we do?

Why are we creating a job for ourselves rather than working for someone else?

Here are some of the comments made by individual members of our group:

  • Many of us have a belief in purpose and in doing what you were born to do. There has to be something more to life than school, college, work, retire.
  • No glass ceiling when you work for yourself.
  • The more we open up other avenues/types of business, the more we are opening up opportunity for other people.
  • Bringing hope to depressed communities could be one’s purpose.
  • Desire to buck conformity, see and do things in a different way. Demonstrate to young people that they can take an alternative path, think differently.
  • The need to be involved in meaningful work and to leave a legacy, inspire others.
  • Turn the tide on health and epidemic of chronic disease.
  • Live an exciting life - not ever boring.
  • Don’t want to be told what to do - desire to have control of work and schedule.
  • Don’t want to have any regrets at the end of one’s life that you didn’t do something you always wanted to.
  • Desire to improve Detroit and it’s community through a love of gardening.
  • Ready for a new challenge; a desire to test oneself and start something entirely new.
  • A need to let go of past work and find a new life through coaching others in business.
  • A desire to leave the world a better place than you found it.
  • Desire to uncover the truth, especially the truth about Detroit. Wants to break down the misinformation about this city and expose people to the truth about Detroit.
  • Continuous learning - through enlightening others, one is enlightened.
  • Wants to combine art with a positive (Christian based) message.
  • Desire to not have a “real job” anymore, that is, having to be somewhere at a specific time, work for someone else, deal with bureaucracy.
  • Combining areas of passion (teaching and business) and turning that into her work.
  • Most people start a business because they are passionate about something.
  • It’s about passion, learning, sharing, having fun and having control over your own life and work. Money generally figures lower down on the list of reasons to start a business.
  • People who start businesses with only money in mind are often not successful.
  • Values matter: It’s good to sit down and define the values that you want your company to hold - everyone has to be on board with those values. If you can’t define your values, you can’t grow.

Sustainable Business, May 1, 2014 Topic: Identifying Your Target Community

One of the focuses of a triple bottom line business is community. How do you identify the community you want to impact with your business? Who are you focusing on and why?

Several members of our group share their thoughts:

Karen (genealogy): Her community is made up of 2 segments: beginners and frustrated beginners.

  • Beginners: Those who want to get started but don’t have a clue how to go about it.
  • Frustrated beginners: Those who have begun their research but have hit those brick walls, don’t know how to backtrack in order to achieve success.
  • Ages: many are in midlife, 40-60’s, and they now have the time to think about their family history and leaving a legacy for their children and grandchildren.
  • People who like solving puzzles
  • Children of customers, giving the gift of guided genealogy to their parents.


Eric: His target community: Business management people, decision makers, who have no training in sustainability. They may have an interest in it but don’t know how to go about it. Eric wants to intersect with those decision makers, help them to make the connections between the 3 elements of sustainability and understand how they impact their businesses.


Kim (Simply Well Communities): Was able to identify communities through mapping the ecosystem of her business seed. She measures the health of a community through its relationships.

  • Microcommunity: People who are proactive about their health, they will live on site.
  • Mesocommunity: Neighboring community that they are a part of; they can share information and learning with them.
  • Macrocommunity: Others working in the built environment. Information can be shared with this wider community in hopes of having more healthy products on the market for community and housing. Learning how others in the built environment think and work has helped Kim to see where there are gaps that they can fill.


Tara (book store): Communities she is targeting:

  • Readers who miss real book stores and wants the physical experience of searching for, holding and reading books. There are very few book stores left anymore. Wants to be able to give in-person recommendations.
  • Communities in need of literacy programs. Wants to build connections with local schools, reading and writing programs as well as performance programs, possibly connect with local writers.
  • People interested in book clubs


Darryl (Sidebar Black Arts Theater):

  • Darryl became aware of a group that was not getting something and he stepped into the void; this was university students who weren’t getting a broader theater option. Students felt that the existing theaters kept doing the same plays over and over again, and that there was no real depth to the selection of plays.
  • New playwrights: He hopes to nurture local and upcoming playwrights.
  • Local school children: He would like to expose school kids to the experience of theater.

Darryl’s goals are to entertain, empower and educate. A key component is to break down walls between ethnic groups in the city and show, through theater, that our differences are our strengths, not our weaknesses - like a weaving of a fabric. He hopes that their productions will create conversations (sidebar) between these different groups in the city.


Sheila Palmer (art historian, textile artist):

  • Planning to open a textile studio in Midtown.
  • Her target communities will be retail customers, theater groups, those looking for indigenous design, historical design, etc.
  • Education/learning component: wants to work with students from CCS, Cranbrook, and other schools, focusing on craftsmanship, culture, education.

Other questions to ask yourself:

  • What are we trying to do financially?
  • What are we trying to do mission- wise? What is your Seed? Your business should be a tool to help you achieve your mission.
  • Who do you want to impact most immediately?