At Salesforce, we believe in the power of business as a platform for change. Customers and employees alike are increasingly drawn to companies that make a positive impact on our society. Glassdoor’s 2019 Mission & Culture Survey found that over 77% of adults across four countries (U.S., U.K., France, Germany) would consider a company’s culture before applying for a job there. And more than half of the respondents said that company culture is more important than salary when it comes to job satisfaction.
As CEO Marc Benioff wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed, business leaders must focus not only on their shareholders, but also on all of their stakeholders — their employees, customers, communities, and the planet. Sounds great, but how do you, as a small business leader, go about building a business as a platform for change?
Small business leaders are Trailblazers
One small business leader showing the way is Meggie Palmer. Palmer is founder and CEO of PepTalkHer, a company working to close the gender pay gap by coaching women to know their real value in the workplace and supporting them as they negotiate for equal salaries and working conditions.
Palmer started PepTalkHer because she was fed up with the inequality she and her female friends and colleagues had experienced. Through in-person events and an app women can use every day to track workplace achievements, PepTalkHer has quickly grown from an idea to a small business that’s affecting real change around the world.
Four steps to building a business as a platform for change
Salesforce provides software and services to help businesses grow, but was designed from the beginning to impact change via our 1-1-1 philanthropic model. PepTalkHer’s business is built entirely around driving societal change. The point is that no matter what business your business is in, you can also be in the business of changing the world for the better.
Here are some ways on how you can create a business as a platform for change:
1. Build a mission-driven team
Business isn’t just about revenue and shareholders. Today’s businesses must have purpose beyond profit. Building a business around a purpose helps align and motivate your employees daily, and helps customers connect to your brand in a way that’s meaningful beyond price and product offerings. A study conducted by Cone Communications and Echo Research found that 87% of U.S. consumers consider corporate social responsibility when deciding which products or services to buy and where to shop.
Mission-driven teams are at the heart of successful, purpose-driven businesses. At PepTalkHer, the mission was crystal-clear from the outset as Palmer founded the business and built her core team. “We founded because we have this belief that if women know their worth and they know how to negotiate their worth, everyone will be better off,” she said. Defining your company’s mission before you start building your core team helps ensure that your first key hires will be committed to the cause.
2. Write out your company values
Company values can serve as a North Star not only for why your company does what it does, but how everyone involved goes about doing the work every day. Writing out your company values helps everyone on the team stay mission-aligned, whether they’re making big strategic decisions or handling routine customer interactions. Here at Salesforce, we use the V2MOM method to build values into our business goals and plans.
“When we brainstormed as a team and came up with our values, what we decided on was that our three core values are impact, collective success, and being bold,” Palmer said. Now, everything that PepTalkHer does, from designing their app and workshops to choosing and interacting with partner brands, aligns with those values.
3. Invest in technology to help you scale
The right technology can help your small team work big today, and support you as you scale your operations down the road. From marketing tools to help you find new customers to tech to ramp up your customer service game, platforms like customer relationship management (CRM) enable small businesses to get more done, faster.
Palmer consulted with more experienced business owners before adopting Salesforce Essentials, and she’s glad she did. “I was considering CRMs and I remember one friend saying she was really glad that she started with Salesforce, even when it was just her getting the company going,” Palmer said. “As they've grown to a multi-million dollar business, Salesforce has made that process a lot easier.”
4. Build relationships and inspire advocates
Business in the digital age is all about relationships. Customers look for brands they can connect with and feel good about supporting, and that’s true whether you’re selling services to other businesses or retail products to consumers. The advent of social media has also made it easy for loyal customers to become your company’s biggest, most outspoken fans and advocates.
PepTalkHer was built on relationships from the beginning, and Palmer offered some sound advice on what relationship building means to any business. “Great customer relationships means a great quality business, and it means a growth business,” she said. Those relationships drive repeat business and referrals, and help bolster PepTalkHer’s long term vision.
Learn more from Meggie about building a business to make change at Dreamforce at the Small Business Keynote on Thursday, November 21st. Can’t make it to San Francisco? Tune in to the keynote and all the action of Dreamforce on Salesforce Live.