In the journey of entrepreneurship, you will face a dilemma that will alter the face of your company for months and years ahead. For me and many other millennial entrepreneurs, this situation is whether we want to play the Old Game or New Game.
According to GameChangers 500, the Old Game consists of:
- Maximizing profit-at-all-cost.
- Prioritizing initiatives that maximize profit.
- Treating people like human resources; get the most output for the least cost.
- Minimizing your environmental footprint if it’s profitable to do so.
On the other hand, GameChangers 500 considers the New Game to be:
- Maximizing benefit to people and the planet.
- Prioritizing initiatives that help you meet your mission.
- Treating people like human beings; empower employees and have a positive impact on all stakeholders.
- Minimizing your environmental footprint because it’s the right thing to do.
Within the first handful of months of launching No Typical Moments, I lost my why for starting the business. As I quit my job with only a few thousand dollars saved, I had a very short window to break even on my expenses. As a result of this stress, I was aggressively pursuing any client that wanted to work with my company. The altruistic aspirations I had as an idealistic college student were slowly, but surely dying.
After some reflection, I realized that there wouldn’t be a point of continuing on my own unless I felt that my work was making the world a better place.
I then remembered Matt’s speech from TEDxCMU and his initiative to donate 50% of his client work towards pro-bono projects with non-profits. My intuition told me that adopting this type of philanthropic model of serving others would not only help me rediscover my why, but push the bottom line forward.
Serendipitously, while doing pro-bono work with a Pittsburgh based non-profit named Haitian Families First, I brought up my idealistic vision of one day connecting with Matt and having him mentor my company through this process. It just so happened that my friend at Haitian Families First was friends with Matt and immediately made an introduction.
Adopting a philanthropic component into the business model at No Typical Moments has served my organization well for a plethora of reasons. These include:
- Helping me discover my why— As mentioned previously, serving underserved non-profit organizations helped me rediscover my why for starting No Typical Moments. It allowed me regain a sense of purpose and direction to believe that my work is making the world a better place.
- Building a portfolio— As any business owner can tell you, it’s very difficult to make a sale without a handful of testimonials to support your product or service. When I just launched the company, I only had two case studies. However, after donating so much of my time to non-profits, No Typical Moments had more than tripled that number.
- Creating a differentiation factor— There are hundreds of people out there claiming to be social media experts. Some of them are, while some are pretenders just attempting to win one over with less tech savvy professionals. By creating a model focused on giving back to humanity, it allowed No Typical Moments to stand out from the average social media agency.
- Networking with paying clients— One of the best ways to gain access to more clients is to have an introduction come from a trusted friend or colleague. However, you have to build trust with that individual before they’d be willing to open up their network to you. Almost all of the non-profits we did pro-bono work with were willing to make introductions to their friends who they believed had the marketing budget for these services.
- Being accepted to Awesomeness Fest— In order to gain acceptance to Awesomeness Fest, you have to be doing something pretty amazing with your career. I was accepted into the conference because of the unique way No Typical Moments approached work.
- Meeting really cool non-profits— Some of the kindest individuals you’ll meet on this planet work in the non-profit industry. They are unconcerned with money and live their lives in the service of others. By associating with these individuals, it helped me stay grounded as No Typical Moments continued to expand. Making a lot of money is great, but it’s useless unless your work makes a difference in peoples lives. That sense of fulfillment is what makes it all worth it.
- Contributing to humanity— One of the proudest moments I’ve had as an entrepreneur was when we helped Haitian Families First raise over $13,000 on an Indiegogo campaign. All of this money went directly towards their work in Haiti. It was very fulfilling to know how much of a difference our efforts made in helping them raise that money to transform lives.
I hope that the main takeaway you have from Matt’s work at verynice is to discover your own personal why. Perhaps you want to join Matt in his journey of philanthropic work. On the other hand, maybe it stimulates the creative juices and you decide to end homelessness in the United States. Whatever your conclusion is, the ability to start a movement begins by dipping your toes in the water and believing that it’s possible.