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TOMS: shoes with social heart - pair profit with purpose

With a powerful story behind it, the example of TOMS, a shoe business that foots the bill for children in need, shows it is possible to grow a successful profitable business with a conscience, argues Indy Agnihotri.

Indy Agnihotri

December 2018

Some of you may have heard of TOMS – a shoe manufacturer with a difference. Its unique selling point is that for every pair of shoes you buy, it provides a free pair to a child in need. In his book, ‘Start Something that Matters’, the founder, Blake Mycoskie, a serial entrepreneur, shows how he did what he did to build a successful profitable business with a social purpose.

Interestingly, Toms is a ‘for-profit’ business but with a strong social message and intention. You can make money and make a difference.

One of his key points in his book is to find your ‘story’. Toms is a story as much as it’s a product. Great shoes but also giving a free pair to a child in need.

So, find your story. If you did not have to worry about money what would you do with your time? What kind of work would you want to do? What cause would you serve? If you organise your life around your passion, you can turn your story into your passion and make money, while also turning your story into something bigger, making the world a better place.

Then you commit to telling your story to everyone, at every opportunity. It’s not an incidental part of your business but a major focus. And never stop thinking of ways to spread the story.  When people ask, what do you do, in whatever context, that’s your opportunity to tell all. Gauge whether it’s having impact and refine it where needed.

The ultimate message, though, is that money and social impact wrapped in a powerful story can go hand-in-hand.

Indy Agnihotri is LSCA Vice President and business coach consultant, strategic finance director and trainer. Contact Indy

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