Photo credit Ian Schneider via Unsplash.
I’ve had a couple of opportunities over the last several weeks to explain what I’ve been working on over the past few years as an entrepreneur and how that connects to my broader mission and vision. I was delighted to have these conversations and they reminded me about keeping the big picture in mind, even as I work out the details to get several simultaneous projects of the ground.
I recently re-connected with Portland Reed, a colleague I worked with over 4 years ago who is truly doing great work to foster positive change and impact. When I was working for an international NGO, the language of changing the world was everywhere. It was so prevalent that I took it for granted that we were making an impact. We were working with women around the world to bring access to markets and major international purchasing organizations to women entrepreneurs. We were encouraging women entrepreneurs to think bigger and supporting women’s economic independence. We aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and I worked with Portland and her company to not only measure our impact but evaluate that impact and continue to iterate on our programs. When I connected with her again recently, I gave her my elevator pitch and she told me what she was up to. Then she asked me “What is your social impact, Liz and how are you measuring it?” I paused and took a minute to really consider what it was. I do measure my spend with diverse business owners but I did think, “Oh, here was a big part of what I worked on before – time to bring that back into what I’m doing.”
I knew from Portland’s company about certified B Corps but through our conversation, I learned a little bit more about Benefit Corporations in Maryland, what it means to be a Benefit Corporation and how I can evaluate myself as a company that wants to measure and improve my social impact. Not only that, but I’ll be able to help other companies measure their impact, too by collaborating with her. I look forward to seeing where this takes me and what steps I’ll need to take and what progress I’ll need to make to become a certified B Corp.
Of course, I know from my work with entrepreneurs that you not only have to measure your impact, but you have to communicate it. I was on a call with a woman who is helping Gen X women (yes, not millennials but Gen X. How novel) to harness their purpose and create the life they want. She prompted me to ask myself not only what I do, but what is my purpose. As I look at the various projects I’m working on with 12PointFive, Diversity Masterminds, and the partners I’m working with at other organizations the through line is entrepreneurship and more specifically, supporting entrepreneurs who are changing the world.
12PointFive supports the entrepreneurs who are making positive change in the world.
It was great to have these discussions which gave me a chance to think beyond where my company is in the present moment and what I truly want it to be. As entrepreneurs, our time and focus is so important. We need to stay grounded in the present to execute on our goals. As Ani DiFranco said, “When I look down, I miss all the good stuff and when I look up, I trip over things.” Sometimes, though we also need a chance, and we need the great collaborators, who help us lift our feet off the ground and really consider what purpose all this time and focus serves. We might trip, but it’s worth it.