Everything in life operates best when there is balance. Whether it’s a balance in your work and personal life, a balance in the ingredients you use for cooking your favorite dish, or a balance in the time you spend on social media and the time you spend on your self-care routine – balance brings a sense of peace and accomplishment to the people who achieve it. In a business, balance can work the same way. Aside from balancing your financial statements, there is one important aspect that needs to be taken into consideration: the balance between earning profit and giving back to others. Especially in a time where there are a countless number of people and communities in need, businesses need to step up in whatever way they possibly can.
Is there a correct path to go down to strike a balance in your business?
We sat down with Erik Chua, the CEO and Founder of Shapecloud.ph, as he spoke about a few examples of finding a balance in our focus as businesses to give back while still earning profit. Through the examples he shared, Erik hopes to inspire others to do the same. The simple goal of finding this balance is to be able to tailor your business strategy to continuously earn money while providing a sufficient amount of help to those that you can extend it to. Erik mentioned that there is no sure way to find the perfect balance, and he can’t offer a foolproof solution, but he hopes that his insights are able to start a conversation on how to make it work.
In order for there to be a balance in anything that we do, we should remember that our focus should be on all of the aspects involved in the situation. In the case of finding a balance in one’s own business, there should be both an internal focus and an external focus.
An external focus is the attention and energy you place on everyone outside of your organization: your clients, investors, stakeholders, suppliers, charities, and everyone that you work with. There are several paths that a business can take in giving back while still earning, and Erik enumerates some that he hopes will inspire a conversation and movement in other organizations:
1. Partner with NGOs or third parties
Forming partnerships with organizations that need help is one way to extend a lending hand in this time of need. Find an organization that has similar values to yours and explore different ways to collaborate with them.
2. Donate a portion of sales revenues
As straightforward as this action is, it has the potential to make a large impact in communities that a business donates to. It’s a win-win situation because of the simplicity of the partnership.
3. Divert from your main products and services, and cut margins for essential goods to help the community
If your business is able to divert some manpower to producing products and providing services that can benefit a community in need, now would be a great time to make that small shift. We’ve seen many clothing and apparel brands dedicate a small portion of their workforce to creating PPEs for our frontline and essential workers, and even selling them at affordable prices just to be able to give back in exchange for all the amazing work these people do for our country.
4. Throw in supplementary goods or services
Businesses can throw in in supplementary goods/services to help people gain access to their product or service in a time when accessibility can be limited or out of reach. An example that Erik gave for this point was how businesses offered free or discounted delivery at the beginning of the lockdown to ensure that customers could get their essentials in a timely and hassle free manner. Erik mentions that businesses should not limit themselves to only this kind of help, especially if throwing something in will provide access to your customers, and especially if there is no variable cost to your business on a per order basis.
An internal focus is the attention and energy that you place on providing help within your business: to your employees and internal stakeholders. Internal focus is often overlooked but it’s just as important as the former. Here are some examples of what businesses can do to give back:
1. Re-assure your employees
“I hope you’re doing well in these uncertain times” is a line that is probably in everyone’s inbox by now. As overused as it is, it comes across as an attempt to tell the other person that they are not alone in this struggle. As an employer, it would mean even more to your employees if this came from you. Something as simple as acknowledging the performance of your employees, discussing their points for improvement, and highlighting the areas where they have developed is a big deal that can help boost employee morale in your organization. Another point to consider is to be transparent with work security. In a time where every day brings a new change, it would help for employees to know where they stand in your organization.
2. Skills development within the team
Share your skills and interests with your team. In a time where there is so much noise online, be sure to remind your team to take time off to learn a new skill, or revisit an old one – and share your own progress with them as well.
3. Using time for people assessment
Take the extra time you have to do the things you haven’t been able to do in your business before. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, and take advantage of the space you have to pivot.
4. Utilizing manpower for alternative work/services
Similar to diverting from your main products and services to something that fit a community’s needs, this action can do two things for your organization: aside from earning money and helping other people, you are also putting more power into your employees. You are letting them know that they are doing something purposeful for others.
Erik hopes that these examples get a conversation in your organization going. Use these thoughts and insights to build on your ideas and think about where you can apply these concepts in your business. It is important to remember that having a mindset to help others when doing anything in business is just as important as earning profit.