Whilst developing the business development toolkit over past few months, I’ve become quite obsessed by ethical behaviour and ‘green’ marketing. There are few tools to help with this in the toolkit, but, reading wise, Branson does pretty much nails it in his book Screw Business As Usual.
SCREW BUSINESS AS USUAL
The one-sentence summary
We can bring more meaning to our lives and help change the world at the same time by turning capitalism upside down – shifting from a profit focus to caring for people, communities, and the planet.
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
Capitalism 24902 is his name for this new approach – that’s the circumference of the earth in miles – something of a euphemism for putting your arms around the world.
There is no Planet B, so we need to look after what we’ve got.
It’s not so much about doing good, as doing better.
Whereas most businesses concentrate on affluent customers, there is a ‘fortune at the bottom of the pyramid’, in which giving poorer people access to products and services at sensible prices represents a massive market.
Meanwhile, business suffers from a ‘missing middle’, in which small entrepreneurs lack investment because they are too small for large investment and too big for microfinance.
Social intrapreneurs can have a huge effect by driving socially responsible initiatives inside large companies.
ELEMENTS OF THE BOOK I PARTICULARLY LIKE
Branson is nicknamed Yes by his team because when he latches onto an idea he wants to get on with it right away – a good business approach.
The author is a fan of James Lovelock’s Gaia theory (named after the Greek goddess of the earth), in which the earth is viewed as a living organism. In its current condition, it is sick, so we need to amend our approach to it urgently.
He disagrees with the old adage that “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Instead, he says that all all business is personal, all the time, and we should act accordingly.
Virgin has a foundation called Virgin Unite. Their philanthropic methods are not simply to give out money willy-nilly. Instead they run it like any other business, making sure that their investments have the best possible social and environmental return, and trying to help ventures be self-sustaining as fast as possible.