Benefit Corporations: The Path of the New Collaborative Economy
There is a buzz.
It’s about a new business model transforming American Business and evangelizing the spirit of collaboration for the common good as well as to create profit and success.
It is taking hold across country through the advent of Benefit Corporations.
The lines are blurring between nonprofits and corporations. Call them social entrepreneurs, conscious capitalists or B Corps, these are cause-driven businesses with a core philosophy around collaboration.
Because the world is more connected. Social media links us to one another and sparks collaboration and sharing versus just competition, creating a powerful win-win scenario for all. This economic model delivers customers and manages expenses through the synergy of working with others. It is driven by the power of Millennials, the sustainable community, and the growing diversity of the country.
A lower price point and a better widget just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Today, experiences are shared. Customer reviews from real people, be they shared by word-of-mouth, or on platforms such as YELP, are more authentic than a carefully crafted descriptive statement from a business’s website. In fact, numerous studies reveal that today most people make purchasing decisions based on customer generated content that is shared socially.
People believe what others say about a company more than they will trust the company’s words. Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions and author of several bestselling books on content marketing says, “…one ultra -loyal customer who shares content can generate eight times his or her own consumption through advocacy.”
This is the spirit of social collaboration.
Yet, these concepts aren’t new. Coalition building has been going on for a long time to achieve health, education and social service goals in the nonprofit world. What is different is its strong adoption within the business community to serve communities while generating revenues. It’s what we see every day in Benefit Corporations who are transparent, authentic and gaining fans and customers.
Twenty years ago, ten even five years ago, this would not be possible. Corporate legal and governing constraints along with clearly defined rules and roles required distribution of profits to shareholders and limited sharing and collaboration. However, legislation in 34 states now allow businesses to incorporate as a Benefit Corporation or Benefit Company serving as a bridge between nonprofits and corporations. Based on collaboration, these new business entities demonstrate that it is not singularly one model or the other, but a hybrid between the nonprofit and corporate world that delivers results. It is a model where both value systems are acknowledged leading to more livable and sustainable communities.
Collaboration is the foundation, the power, the engine that enables a new economy. Collaboration leverages the COLLECTIVE creativity, intellect and resources of customers, vendors, employees, partners and the community.
It’s a new path. It’s the emergence of Benefit Corporations who deliver hope for more focus on the greater good.