By Benjamin P. Hardy, Huffington Post Contributor
If you’re paying attention, you’ll have noticed there is a recent trend in many business industries. This trend is what some are calling “Conscious Capitalism.” What this means is that business owners are focusing on more than day-to-day business and profitability. Rather, they are focused more on cause, community, and mission.
One such entrepreneur is Steve Down, who has started multiple companies upon the foundation of Conscious Capitalism, or what he calls, “Cause Capitalism.” Down’s personal mission statement is, “BE A FORCE FOR GOOD. BE WILDLY SUCCESSFUL.”
Specifically, Down believes there are four fundamental tenets required to run a business in a conscious and cause-driven manner. These include:
1. Have Incredible Products and Services that Fill a Need in the Market Place
You can’t have a business without great products or services. You have to provide something that people actually need and want.
The Falls Event Center, one of Down’s companies, is a unique service in the hospitality space because it provides flexibility to the user. Specifically, unlike other event centers, at The Falls, the client is merely renting beautiful space and great service. Aside from this, they can do whatever they want. They can bring their own food, their own furniture, and more. This is appealing for people doing business events, weddings, or other social gatherings. It’s especially appealing to minority groups, where food is their culture. It’s also cost efficient because the client decides how much they spend on their event.
2. Every Company Should Have a ‘Give Back’
According to Down, most business owners have limiting beliefs about how much they can give away and still be profitable. Down is showing business owners how to do this in every one of his companies.
For example, at Even Stevens, a fast-casual restaurant chain owned by Down, the give-back is simple. For each sandwich they serve, they provide a sandwich to the local community’s hungry. “Sandwich for sandwich.”
When Down created this unique concept, every person he shared it with in the restaurant industry said it could not be profitable. However, most of the Even Steven’s restaurants have become profitable within 30 days of being open. Within two short years, Even Steven’s has served over one million sandwiches. Thus, they have also provided over one million sandwiches to their local hungry.
Down believes every for-profit company should both partner and combine efforts with a non-profit organization. With this model, he has been able to actualize a business that is both profitable and generous, or what Millennials call “Socially Conscious.”
3. Find a Way Capture the Hearts of the Millennial Generation
Many Millennials are disinterested in “Capitalism.” They are more interested in causes and community, than simply making money. According to Down, “Social consciousness in business is fast becoming a requirement to gain trust of this generation, both as employees and customers.”
Many Millennials have come to embrace Down’s notions of ‘Cause Capitalism.’ When asking his team members why they enjoy working at his companies, they generally say, “First, because of the give-back. Second, because of the internal community that allows us to share our values and voice.”
Down has a belief that in order to succeed in business, you must develop a “cult following” of raving fans. To him, his primary fans should be his team members, who embrace his mission of Cause Capitalism. Beyond his team members, he seeks to have raving fans which include his retail customers, investors, and even the media. All of these voices, who come to embrace Down’s fundamental philosophy of business and community spread his ideas via word-of-mouth and social platforms.
4. Create Systems and Processes to be Scale-able and Sustainable
Lastly, to Down, you must start with a strong foundation, which includes quality product and services, a ‘give-back,’ and an incredible team. Upon this foundation, you add systems and processes by which you can scale and duplicate.
For instance, Down’s companies include systems to ensure the quality of their services and products. No matter which Even Steven’s you go to, the quality of the sandwiches will be the same. No matter which Falls Event Center you go to, the quality of your experience will be the same. That is their promise.
You can’t scale a company without consistency. To Down, consistency is key to scaling business and making them sustainable.
Steve Down has said, “The future of capitalism depends on a different approach. It must be a kinder, gentler capitalism. One that our children and grandchildren can embrace.”
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