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Living Now - - Business With Spirit -

what to mea­sure

For busi­nesses, suc­cess is mea­sured in profit. For so­cial busi­nesses, suc­cess is mea­sured in im­pact. Prof­its are easy to mea­sure – there are lots of amaz­ing ac­count­ing tools and book­keep­ers that can help en­trepreneurs to mea­sure profit. Im­pact can be much more dif­fi­cult to cap­ture. When mea­sur­ing im­pact the ba­sic ap­proach is to look at what was hap­pen­ing be­fore you came along vs what is hap­pen­ing af­ter you’ve been there for a while – the dif­fer­ence be­fore vs af­ter is your im­pact. But rather than just mea­sur­ing out­puts (num­ber of wells built or school books do­nated, for ex­am­ple), it’s crit­i­cal to mea­sure out­comes, like de­crease in in­fant mor­tal­ity or in­crease in grad­u­a­tion rates. Why? If no­body’s us­ing the wells, or the school books aren’t be­ing read, you’re not re­ally hav­ing im­pact. Don’t as­sume that out­puts yield out­comes.

talk­ing, start do­ing

It’s easy to come up with a new busi­ness idea, but the only way to see if an idea will be suc­cess­ful is to give it a go. It should be pos­si­ble to test a pro­to­type for most busi­ness ideas with $500 and a week or two of work.

Who Gives A Crap’s first pro­to­type in­volved buy­ing $300 of toi­let pa­per from the su­per­mar­ket, spend­ing four hours set­ting up an online toi­let pa­per store (the same store that we use to­day!) and bid­ding on some Google ads to drive traf­fic to our online store.

This quick and cheap pro­to­type showed us that cus­tomers were will­ing to buy so­cially con­scious toi­let pa­per online. So we de­cided to in­vest more of our time and money to take Who Gives A Crap to the next level. n Si­mon is the CEO of Who Gives A Crap, an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly toi­let pa­per com­pany that uses 50% of its prof­its to build toi­lets in the de­vel­op­ing world. He is also the founder of She­been, Aus­tralia’s first non-profit bar, lo­cated in Mel­bourne’s CBD.

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