Business Profile Series: Social Nature

Business Profile | Social Nature  

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At SocialNature, we’re dedicated to helping people make greener choices. Did you know that each year, the average person uses about 200 products? That’s 200 choices you’re making about what you put in your body, in your children’s bodies, and in the environment.

We began our mission to make green mainstream in 2010 with ethicalDeal, which was North America’s largest green daily deal site. Through ethicalDeal, we helped over 100,000 people make greener choices. We’re really proud of that – but our mission demanded we think bigger. We knew that if we were really going to make green mainstream we needed to reach millions of people. We needed a way to mobilize our community to help us spread the word.

How It Works - SocialNature

Social Nature Interview:

 

© 2013 Photography by Mark WhiteheadAnnalea Krebs

Founder & CEO

Social Nature

Mel: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Annalea:

  1. Perseverance, who can continue running the longest. You need to be a marathon runner. Sprint when need to, but you need the endurance.
  2. Optimism, having an unusually positive outlook on life. If you are a pessimist you will not survive.
  3. Inspirational/influential, inspire yourself, family, employees, customers,investors about your vision and get them to buy into it to help you.

Mel: If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

Annalea: I would have Invested more time into understanding what type of company I wanted to build and what type of culture I would want to have. in terms of environment and culture, because I wasn’t hiring based on culture I was hiring on gut and instinct, which wasn’t always right.

Train for sales hire for attitude/value.

There were lots of parting ways 3-6-9 months later, when things didn’t pan out. I have made mistakes around hiring because I didn’t really know what I was looking for or what my expectations and boundaries were. So, my team wasn’t happy because there was miscommunication. Lots of unnecessary drama and stress around team building. Now that I am starting a second business I am more aware of hiring for value and how it has made such a difference.

When you think it’s not the right fit, listen to that. Hire slowly and fire quickly.

The first time you think about firing someone, 90-95% of the time they will be gone in a year.

You need to suit up and say, “I trust my gut here and you crossed the line which is not good for either of us.

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I would also tell myself that there is no point in worrying, just take action. I have had countless nights worrying, but really I was spinning my wheels and talking about the challenges. At a certain point I needed to start doing something about it. 

Lastly, fundraising; with Ethical Deal I chose to bootstrap; I could have raised money to grow it to be much bigger than it was, because I was gaining momentum. That is the right time to fundraise.

 

When you have more capital than you can do through sales organically, because there is this challenge when your growth slows. Suddenly, it becomes less interesting for investors. Either with no sales or when there is high growth. I did not raise money in the first two years and it was in year three that I needed it. That was when I was flat-lining so it was harder to buy into.

Just doesn’t become as sexy anymore to buy into a flat-lining company

Mel: What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Anna: I’ll start with how I manage fear…

Manage Fear: Book called, “Feel the fear and do it anyways”. Yes you will have fear, but you need to learn how to deal with it. If fear turns into stress I’ll try to be more mindful and take some time out. I will clear my head, take a walk, or spend time with family and friends. Stepping away from the situation to gain a new perspective or talking to advisors. It helps to face the fear, because sometimes it’s a small thing. You have to tell yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” and go from there.

I am not a huge fan of public speaking, but I use techniques like exercises and power poses. Back stage before I present I will strike a power pose. It’s exhilarating to face the fear. The high that you get from making payroll every month or winning a big deal or making a presentation is so worth it.

My biggest fear is running out of money & not achieving my vision of bringing green mainstream. I want to make a significant impact.

Products_SocialNature

Mel: How do you build a successful customer base?

Anna: Repeat business; that shows success. How you build that is by investing in the relationship and thinking long term.

I really try to coach my sales team around this. They come from a more transactional process. Call X present X close X deal. You need to know what level of activity you need to do, to get a certain level of results. We go to trade shows and conferences to invest in these relationships half of my meetings are with existing clients and the other 50% is with new clients. Always continue to nurture existing relationships. Which doesn’t need to be so formal it can be a drink or a lunch in the sun. People like doing business with people that they like.

I like to be likeable, creative, and surprise my clients. Before my clients become a Social Nature customer, we ship them a product such as: Fair trade organic chocolate bar with a letter signed and a business card with an intro to Social Nature. That usually gets us a return call or a connection that wasn’t there before. For Christmas we send: cards, a local may get wine, chocolates, or some kind of recognition and cards with a personal note. I will spend the time signing cards for 3hrs.

Mel: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most, and why?

 Anna: Two companies that I am inspired by and what I like about them are:

  1. Air BnB: they have integrated what they do into their company very well. Their offices are designed to be different Air BnB rooms. Looks like a living room or Paris. I have heard they also give a lot of time off so people can travel the world and practice what they preach. For interviews they would ask: “If you knew that you were going to die in the next few years, would you still work for us?” They would only hire the ones that said yes. Take some inspiration from this and see if your team is passionate, maybe not to that extreme, but you will gain important insight if you spend the time determining how this model can impact your company for the better.
  1. 37 Signals: They are behind some fantastic software applications (ex: basecamp). They have a great business blog with awesome content. One-management principle they have is, instead of hierarchy they have a very flat org chart. They promote, but basically make you more senior at the current position. Everyone is individually accountable. Everyone is really clear with what their goal is and how to do their job then the company can successfully run itself. I want to have as little management roles as possible, as we grow and take a page out of their book.

Meat Section: Resources, Websites, & Who to follow

Books:

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz 

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Overview from the Book: While many people talk about how great it is to start a business, very few are honest about how difficult it is to run one. Ben Horowitz analyzes the problems that confront leaders every day, sharing the insights he’s gained developing, managing, selling, buying, investing in, and supervising technology companies. A lifelong rap fanatic, he amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favourite songs, telling it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in. 

 

 

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Who by Geoff Smart – a great book on recruiting

Overview from the Book: It’s happened to the best of us. You have a job opening to fill. You interview a range of qualified candidates and hire the best of the bunch—or so you think. You soon realize that the person who seemed like a perfect fit during the interview doesn’t have what it takes to do the job.

In Who, Geoff Smart and Randy Street, of the management consulting firm Geoff Smart, combine their experiences training thousands of managers and executives with the most revealing and comprehensive research ever on the subject of how to hire successfully, as well as advice and stories from more than twenty billionaires and sixty CEOs. The result is a simple, four-step method for hiring with confidence, designed for everyone from the CEO on down. Who shows you how to avoid the most common pitfalls of hiring, how to identify “A Players”—people who can perform their job better than 90 percent of the candidates in their field—and how to make sure the best candidate will be excited to join your organization. 

Websites/Links: 

Conference for Entrepreneurs and Investors- http://metabridge.ca/ Metabridge

Peer Network of CEO’s- http://acetech.org/ 

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For recruiting people interested in working for start-ups and exposure to investors- https://angel.co/

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Tech Tools: 

Mailchimp– E-Newsletters
Salesforce IQ – CRM
Hootsuite – Social Media Management
Gmail
Slack – Team Chat

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Thank you for checking our Office Guardians’ Business Profile. You can send some loving to Social Nature by going to any of the links below and liking their work.

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We work with solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and various small businesses. Our goal is simple: with our help, you get more time to do what matters most: business development and building your brand. Let Office Guardians be your partner in success by reducing the amount of non-core business activities you engage in.

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