I am currently raising growth capital for my seven-year-old company, Little Pickle Press (“Little Pickle”). One of the questions potential investors consistently ask is, “What are your competitive advantages?” I respond by explaining that, from inception, our most important competitive advantage was, and continues to be, the why of what we do.
TED Talks can challenge us to stretch outside our comfort zones, reconsider our assumptions, and inspire us to choose alternate paths. Simon Sinek’s TED Talk did all that for me. One part in particular really resonated with me:
“Every single person, every single organization on the planet knows what they do, 100 percent. Some know how they do it … But very, very few people or organizations know why they do what they do. And by “why” I don’t mean, “to make a profit.” That’s a result . . . By “why,” I mean: What’s your purpose? What’s your cause? What’s your belief? Why does your organization exist? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? And why should anyone care? —Simon Sinek
You can view the full 18-minute TED Talk, titled Start with Why, below:
Little Pickle’s raison d’être is to create media that fosters kindness in young people—and to do so in a manner congruent with that mission. More importantly, we firmly believe that the future of civilization rests in society’s collective ability to instill kindness in its children. This is our why, and it fully informs our business model, distinguishes us from others in our industry, and serves as Little Pickle’s primary competitive advantage.
Consistent with our why, Little Pickle was the very first media company to qualify as a Certified B Corporation (“B Corp”). B Corps, such as Ben and Jerry’s, Method Products, and Patagonia, are leading a global movement to redefine success in business. By voluntarily meeting higher standards of transparency, accountability, performance, environmental conscientiousness, charitable activity, and treatment of employees, B Corps distinguish themselves in competitive industries by offering a positive vision of what business can be.
Little Pickle strives to be the change it seeks in the world and honors its B Corp commitments in numerous ways. For example, Little Pickle has partnered with fellow B Corporation Cabot Creamery Cooperative> to raise awareness about where food comes from and to end hunger throughout the world. We support these efforts by donating 15 percent of the net sales of one of our titles, The Cow in Patrick O’Shanahan’s Kitchen, written by Diana Prichard and illustrated by Heather Devlin Knopf, to the ONE Campaign, Bono’s advocacy platform focused on eradicating extreme poverty in the world. In addition, Little Pickle recently partnered with The Great Kindness Challenge to help educators teach students how to be kind. To achieve this goal, we will donate an electronic copy of my latest book, What Does It Mean To Be Kind? illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch, and the title’s discussion guide to 16,000 participating schools in the United States. In addition, we will donate 15 percent of the net sales of the book to The Great Kindness Challenge to fuel its important work.
Little Pickle does its best to be kind to our employees as well. All have flexible work schedules, so they are free to prioritize their families and other personal obligations. We train and empower our employees and provide them with access to all material information used in reaching corporate decisions.
Little Pickle also does its part to safeguard the environment. We have three titles in our collection that teach young people how they can help protect the Earth’s natural resources—my book, What Does It Mean To Be Green?, illustrated by Chris Blair, Sofia’s Dream by Land Wilson and illustrated by Sue Cornelison, and A Bird On Water Street by Elizabeth O. Dulemba. Plus, Little Pickle prints its books in the United States on recycled paper using soy-based inks. We also use 100 percent tree-free paper (produced by Prairie Paper, a fellow B Corp founded by Woody Harrelson) and other environmentally friendly solutions throughout our business and supply chain.
Positive byproducts of Little Pickle’s unwavering focus on why include its consistent development of exceptional products, remarkable organic growth, and stakeholders—customers, shareholders, employees, consultants, partners, etc.—who respect us and feel good about supporting our efforts.
So, as you launch into strategic business planning for 2016, I suggest you start with discovering or re-evaluating your businesses why—the rest will flow from there. For further information, I recommend reading Start With Why by Simon Sinek and DRiVE by Daniel H. Pink.
Does your business have a why? If so, what is it, and what is its impact? If not, why not—have you considered and rejected the idea, or has its importance simply not yet made it to your radar? I hope you will share your experiences and insights via an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rana DiOrio is the founder and chief executive officer of Little Pickle Press, an award-winning creator of media dedicated to fostering kindness in young people—and doing so in a manner congruent with that mission. She also serves on IBPA’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee. To learn more, visit littlepicklepress.com and follow Little Pickle Press at @LPP_Media and Rana at @ranadiorio.