There are two buzzwords that always seem to make their way into the conversation when talking about business: ‘Culture’ & ‘Bottom-line’. They seem to slip off the tongue without registering meaning to the speaker. What comes first? Does a strong culture precede a strong bottom-line? Do you need to ensure that you are turning a profit before going back to focus on building a strong culture? These questions have been on my mind ever since diving into the world of entrepreneurship earlier this year. I wanted to find a way to reconcile the problem of doing good and needing to make money.
As we started First Defence Face Masks, we spoke about borrowing from the business models of Toms or TenTree. We brainstormed ways that we could directly tie purchases from our customers into giving to those in need. Throughout this exercise, though, we struggled to commit to this approach. The market was unclear, we did not have any consistent customers, and the marketplace for our product favoured the lowest price. If we were to cut into our profit margin to give to others, we may not have enough to keep the doors open.
Six months flew by and we have continued to build the foundation of our business and validate/invalidate small hypotheses:
- Will businesses/individuals buy masks online?
- Do people need to feel and touch a mask before buying it?
- Do people care enough to spend more on a mask made in Canada?
While we continued to experiment with these questions, our vision of building a business with purpose-driven profits remained. This vision had been looming since the beginning and we decided it was time to test whether a purpose-driven strategy would resonate with customers and grow the pie rather than cut it in half.
This led us to create our Linkedin Campaign and encourage my connections to share and like a post in exchange for First Defence donations to charities and businesses in need. The response was overwhelming. We had over 1,800 post views, more than 100 likes, and over 20 shares. Most importantly we were able to connect with 3 incredible organizations that we have been able to support.
- Smiles Foundation offers dental treatments and preventative health education to children and adults through their permanent and mobile dental clinics in the Dominican Republic. During Covid-19, quality face masks have become more expensive and very difficult to procure. We’ll be working closely with the team to provide medical face masks donations so their volunteers can do their work safely.
- Inspire Our Nation is a youth conference with the mission of inspiring youth to overcome struggle and influence the world in positive ways. Our mask donation will help the conference host small ‘watch parties’ as the conference has moved online. This will allow the attendees to get together in small groups and allow the conference to have the biggest impact on the kids.
- Central Bark Doggy Daycare is a local Calgary business that has been greatly affected by Covid-19. Despite this, they have managed to stay open and donated their time providing free grooms to those in need and raising funds for rescues and non profits. Our mask donation will help them get rid of the cost of procuring high-quality masks and allow them to focus on showering all the puppies with love and affection.
I’d like to thank everyone who took the time to engage with our post on Linkedin and encourage you to fill out the form and nominate an organization in need. We’ve certainly validated the fact that a purpose-driven strategy creates a multiplier effect and allows us to grow our business while growing the impact that we can have in the community. Look for more from us in the near future.
Mitch & the First Defence Team