I was excited to introduce the class’ next speaker.
I started by explaining how his company had been more than doubling in size for the past several years, with last year breaking the $2MM mark, how he had landed some very large customers, successfully raised over $2MM in investment capital, and was recently in The New York Times and Huffington Post.
That was the easy part.
But the exciting part was telling my class of 23 entrepreneurs that Anselm was my baby brother.
And how his company, Ecologic Solutions, was making a significant difference in the world.
Anselm and his team of 15+ employees have single-handedly managed to change how companies clean their businesses and take care of their employees. Companies like Whole Foods, Chipotle, Amtrak, Con Edison and countless restaurants and hotel chains.
Anselm has managed to convinced senior executives at these companies that not only is buying his completely non-toxic and all-natural cleaning chemicals great for the planet, but it is also great for their businesses’ success.
And he has done this while bringing in a technology most of these large companies had never seen nor heard of before.
Yes, my baby brother is an UnReasonable entrepreneur.
Thankfully he is not the only one.
The world needs UnReasonable entrepreneurs. People who are not just any entrepreneur, but committed to changing the rules to the game the masses play by.
It is also these UnReasonable entrepreneurs who are solving many of today’s challenges, particularly environmental, social and economic.
It is NOT the scientists. Nor even the educators. And definitely NOT the politicians. They can play an important role, but won’t solve our challenges.
But UnReasonable entrepreneurs will.
They are the ones actively figuring out how to get ourselves out of the messes we’ve managed to get ourselves into.
And make money doing it.
Here are just a few examples of many out there today:
FarmingUp—Alec Baxt, a former student, is building the world’s largest rooftop farm here in NYC. His model is to build a profitable organic farm on City rooftops while integrating with the community.
mkDesigns— Michelle Kaufman is making affordable, customized yet pre-fabricated green homes. Just “design” your house online and it is made, shipped, and constructed for you. Costs less, more efficient, better quality with a lower carbon footprint.
Green Apple Cleaners—David Kistner, a friend, runs the largest and greenest environmental dry cleaning company in the country. Instead of toxic carcinogens and water pollutants used at all other cleaners, Green Apple’s cleaning is better quality with completely non-toxic chemicals while being price-competitive.
These types of UnReasonable entrepreneurs are popping up everywhere: alternative energy, city landscape and design, online technologies, clothing manufacturing, sustainable transportation and green finance, just to name a few.
And while these guys want to maximize their profits, they only do it by leveraging the positive impact they leave on their communities and environment. This strategy tends to reduce expenses and employee turnover while building their brand loyalty, market awareness and competitive advantage.
But that doesn’t mean they won’t fail.
In fact, they are more likely to fail.
Mainly because they are focusing on three bottom lines: people, planet and profits, making it exponentially more challenging than just focusing on profits.
But they would not have it any other way. Because they are on a social and environmental mission. Their company visions are far greater than just being about them and their personal wealth and success.
Each integrates a super-cool business model. Each has game-changing technology. Each is transforming how people live, shop and work, in a more sustainable way.
And each is having a blast.
How to Be an UnReasonable Entrepreneur
- 1. Focus on WHY— most entrepreneurs do not brand themselves correctly. Simon Sineck, a marketing expert illustrates how Apple has become so successful primarily by focusing on their why in this TED talk.
- 2. Have an UnReasonable Vision—don’t settle. The vision is far greater than you. Be clear on what it is and what you will do to get it done.
- 3. Enroll an A-Team—most sophisticated investors would rather invest in an “A” Team with a “B” Idea than a “B” Team with an “A” Idea. “A” teams are much more likely to figure it out and do well. Follow this model, whether you’re looking for capital or not.
- 4. Make it Game-Changing—not afraid to try something totally different. Do not be afraid to really swing for the fences. For example, if you have an idea on how to have cars actually clean up the environment, work it!
- 5. Create UnReasonable, Tangible Results—that make a difference, focus on outcomes, the impact on the customer. What they will walk away with. What your stakeholders (community, employees, suppliers, etc.) will achieve and of course the impact on the planet.
- 6. Walk Your Talk—examples: if you are in the health industry, don’t smoke. If your business is addressing climate change, don’t drive an SUV.
After 90 minutes of my brother explaining how he is reinventing the industrial chemical industry, I realized I was not alone in thinking we need more UnReasonable entrepreneurs.
Many of my students started thinking about how they can reinvent their businesses to use some of the strategies Anselm covered.
They truly understood that entrepreneurism at this level is a gift. It is tough. And it isn’t about them.
But wow there is no better place to be!
Action Steps for the Week
Are you an entrepreneur committed to achieving the UnReasonable?
Great. Start with your vision. What is it you see that others cannot? Is it a solution to one or more of our planet, social and/or economic challenges?
How are you giving back?
What is the legacy you’ll be leaving behind for others to take to the next level?
How are you improving the planet? Your communities?
And lastly, how are you walking your talk?
Use these answers to create your marketing strategy. Remember to leverage the social, economic and environmental aspects to enroll your target audience to want to do business with you.