Doing business better is no longer an optional extra, it’s essential for our survival. But it’s a journey of many steps, says Wayne Hemingway.
Louis Theroux makes programmes about survivalists, and most of us tune in with incredulity. “Mad b*stards,” we mutter at the TV. But these people are doing (albeit in an extreme way), what comes naturally to human beings: self-preservation.
Self-preservation is prevalent in a business world that can be cut-throat; sometimes that’s an aversion to risk, sometimes a danger that, once the business is established, self interest takes over. Whatever Boris Johnson says, the business world has been through the ‘greed is good’ phase and, like power dressing and corporate partridge shoots, it’s never going to be celebrated again.
The reality is, real incomes for the bottom 50% of employees have been falling for the last decade in developed economies. Yes, for HALF of the workforce. Millennials, Gen Zedders and Generation Alphas have lower disposable incomes than previous generations and the digital networks at our disposal allow us to calling out greed and excess more easily. We’re surviving in a new landscape.
We shouldn’t need reminding how harshly Covid-19 has – and continues to – shine a light on damaging levels of inequality, here and around the world. What if our route to self preservation includes considering the things we can do better? They’re not a parallel journey. They’re the path.
Economically, socially and environmentally, we’re in recovery mode. This is a once-in-a-century opportunity to reflect and go beyond our immediate challenges to tackle deep rooted, structural issues.
The momentum is with businesses that care about community, equality and wellbeing for all; that care about the environment and care about climate change. And even the more cautious, traditional businesses out there know it – investment houses and private investors are seeking out and feting these businesses. This is our future.
Why can’t we just recover, rather than having to be ‘better’, you may ask. Well, because adopting good business principles IS a solid path to recovery – a help, not a hindrance. It’s about long term thinking, not short termism – and that’s precisely why those investment houses are putting their money into good businesses. It’s self preservation. Sustainable.
We know the road to good business isn’t smooth and that doing the right thing isn’t often doing the easy thing. No one can become a B-Corp overnight, and that’s fine.
The last year has shown us what we can achieve, rethink and survive. It’s been a great reminder of how resilient, innovative and adaptable we all can be. As the economy reboots, it’s time to trial new ideas in business. To make progress, not look for perfection.
There will be missteps along the way; we might move too fast, or too slowly. In order to survive, we must balance fear of inaction with our fear of getting left behind. Perfection can seem unattainable, overwhelming and fixed – but progress is achievable and tangible. It’s about taking steps in the right direction; moving forward and not stagnating. It’s about momentum, action and movement: action, not words.
Progress is continuous and inclusive. Can anyone really achieve ‘perfect’? Yet anyone can make progress. If you are genuinely taking steps towards good business, then come along and take part in The Good Business Festival. We can smell the sulphurous green washing, or purpose washing, a mile off – but if your business means what it says, whether you’re looking for information or action, then this is for you.
Intentions are great – but now it’s time to act. Now, this is the time to run tests for ourselves and our businesses: to trial new things; test a new direction; experiment with new structures and processes and products. As a result of the pandemic, and of Brexit, most businesses are already making changes. Why not make them changes for good? Let’s take the opportunity to steer towards impact, fairer outcomes and better business.
We don’t have all the answers so, if we are to survive and thrive, we need the support, ideas and experience of the people around us.
This conversation is not about finger-pointing, or calling out ‘bad’ businesses. Everyone has a seat at the ‘progress’ table. (Who’d want to sit on the ‘perfection’ table, anyway?) But by sharing our experiences in our communities, the path to progress becomes a little clearer – for everyone. It’s pretty telling that even Louis Theroux’s survivalists live together in communities. Become part of ours.
The Good Business Festival is passionately non-exclusive. It’s not about what you do or who you know. It’s not about agreeing on everything all of the time. It’s about everyone working towards a better world – no matter where you’re starting from.