Powerful principles, perfect product
This article is part of the Building a Sustainable Business series about starting and running a sustainable business. Read all articles here.
My determination to start a business erupted from my divorce from the computer industry. I woke up one day in 2007 and realized that while I liked the kind of work I did, managing people, I hated the fact that my product was invisible, only seen indirectly, like a ghost at a séance. I also felt the anomie that comes from knowing that my work contributed nothing to the good of the world.
So, I decided to start a business, but not just any business. First, there wouldn’t be a microchip in sight. I wanted a product that I could see, touch, and love. I didn’t have an idea for a product at that time, but I surely did know the corporate mission.
I would start a socially responsible business.
In other words, I wouldn’t screw anyone just to squeeze every last cent from every transaction. I wouldn’t go after millions of dollars, then say “Oops!” while investors wrote off their well-intended investments.
My product would be deep green
Many products we live with every day are either not good for us or are made with processes that pollute. I was determined to find a product that did no harm to people, animals or the environment. I worry about things like the Pacific gyre. I think about those poor children in Asia who dismantle electronics with all their dangerous materials. I’ve heard about vast fields of broken glass where energy efficient fluorescent bulbs go to die, saturating the earth with mercury and arsenic.
I would create as many jobs as possible
My first choice was to manufacture a product in the US. The dissolution of this sector is alarming to me. Too many people are being forced out of skilled labor and into the void. There are no jobs for them. Factories are closing and everything is manufactured abroad. What if we had a war with China? We would have to ask them very nicely to manufacture bombs so we could then drop them on the very people who made them.