I recently helped organise a panel discussion event discussing the future of businesses and the issues they will face in the next 10 years sustainable.org.nz/sustainable-business-events/waikato/waikato-business-2025-economic-environmental-social#.VpS3BhV97IV.
The discussion explored the needs of businesses to become more environmentally and socially aware and engaged if they wished to remain competitive in the future.
I really enjoyed the event and learned a lot, and it got me thinking about different business models.
What I discovered
Until relatively recently I was not very familiar with anything relating to the business world and it did not really interest me. But then my work over the past years has given me the opportunity to work with businesses of all shapes and sizes and I have come to realise lots (definitely a growing number) of businesses do not just exist for profit, and I find this really exciting.
I have known about charities and not-for profits for a while. Then I learned about social enterprises (businesses that use their products, services or profits to support social and/or environmental causes)… and created my own www.linkedin.com/in/camillacartymelis.
For this week, I wanted to learn about some other interesting models businesses use and came across a few:
Pay-what-you-can / Pay-what-you-want model – this is where there are no fixed prices for products or services; rather people pay what they are able to, or what they feel the product/service is worth. E.g. One World Cafe en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_World_Cafe. (I had tried to use this model for my social enterprise too, but haven’t quite worked out how yet. Instead, I use a sliding scale for fees.)
Skillshare – where people can share their skills with others. It started off as $20/course but now operates on a $10/month all-you-want model www.skillshare.com.
I also ready about lots of other business models that didn’t really interest me – they may be effective at generating profits, but the ones that attempt to create a better world are the ones I find really interesting and I am more eager to support.
I have designed and applied for funding to run a programme for businesses that helps them redevelop their business strategy and purpose to include environmental and/or social goals.
Update in December: I also met two women who have recently started a local artisan cheese making business and who wish to further incorporate social and sustainability principles in to their enterprise, so I have said I would be happy to assist them and will provide some services for them free of charge (as they are a start up) www.cilantrocheese.co.nz.