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  • Writer's pictureMark Huxley

Adding some value to your business's recipe

We are in the midst of an era where diversity, inclusivity and social conscience in running a business with ethos and values has somewhat become a badge of honour. Don't get me wrong this is quite right and every one of us running businesses should make the first question we ask ourselves is what is it we want our customers to think of us.

What does make me smile however is that many see this as a trait of today, where the scales have only just been pulled from our eyes and we're seeing this for the first time. This could not be farther from the truth.

In my own transition from employee to business owner back in 1997, I was clear that I wanted my business to stand for much more than a one-dimensional, money making enterprise. I wanted to take it and those working within it along a journey together to a place where we could all thrive financially but perhaps more importantly achieve emotional growth. Ultimately building something that stood for something greater than the sum of its parts and that would live long after any of us left it.

This did feel strange at the time, as I was myself learning and there wasn't the massed resources of online coaching resources that proliferate today to signpost me towards what right looked like. It was a brilliant journey though and long after I chose to leave it, I have taken enormous pleasure in watching it continue to grow & thrive, far beyond my own ambitions.

When I was starting out there was one business that shone out like a beacon to me with a values-led model. As the picture gives away, that business was indeed Ben & Jerry's. It was just so different from anything else in its space, had such a different language and being run by a couple of seemingly harmless hippies, felt like it was a fun hobby rather than a serious business. I felt instinctively drawn to it and soon realised that all this was far from the truth and how it was a brilliantly thought-through business model.

How lucky was I then when they chose to share their recipe for success with me six months into my own journey, in a wonderfully insightful book; Ben Jerry's Double Dip: How to Run a Values Led Business and Make Money Too: Lead with Your Values and Make Money Too

Summing the book up, quoting its details from Amazon tells the story: "Commercial success need not come at the cost of human value. Just ask Ben and Jerry, whose first ice cream shop in an abandoned Vermont gas station grew into a $160 million business. Yet Ben & Jerry continue to use the power of business to change the world. With its seemingly wacky antics, controversial social and political stands, and iconoclastic corporate policies, the company that's come to embody socially responsible business has drawn the scepticism of business analysts, the criticism of media cynics - and the amazement- and ultimately, the respect- of the business world and the people in it.

As Ben and Jerry explain in DOUBLE-DIP, they haven't always known exactly what they were doing, but they've always known why they were doing it. There's a method to their madness; that method is what they call 'values-led business.' BEN & JERRY'S DOUBLE-DIP explains what values-led business is, why it's the best model for business today, and how anyone who owns, works for, invests in, or shops with a company can help make it a socially responsible business."

The book helped me hugely and much of what it advocated has stayed with me ever since, still shaping my mentoring and consulting. If any of you reading this blog have a desire to launch something values-led today or tomorrow, then I would urge you to read these sagely words from yesterday, as to me so much of them still ring true. As a testimony to this, twenty years on and the book is still in print. It can be found here on Amazon. Even better you can enjoy the book and their wonderful ice creams at the same time. For the record my favourite flavour is... What's yours?

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