Companies with purpose strategies deliver higher financial performance, have more loyal customers, and gain a greater competitive advantage.
With this in mind, Virgin Unite launched the Action Network – an exclusive pilot project created to disrupt the entrepreneurial landscape. The Action Network supported micro-businesses with lessons on how to best improve their social and environmental impact. Partnering with Virgin StartUp and their entrepreneurs, the project assisted business founders through the 12-week ‘People Challenge’, to embed core values into their business models.
Clearly articulated core values help reduce staff turnover and recruitment spend, and increase productivity. Participants in the project set out to tackle the program’s five core value steps:
- Knowledge check: Surveying current understanding of core values and their use
- Workshop: A step-by-step guide on developing and updating core values
- Processes: Embedding core values into business recruitment, induction, training and appraisals
- Telling the world: Integrating core values into websites and social media pages
- Celebrating the team: Rewarding staff demonstrating core values.
A dozen start-ups from the pilot completed all five steps, so we’re celebrating them, and the magnificent work they are doing to change business for good.
Cork Yogis: Lara Sengupta
This ethical company is creating change worldwide through the power of yoga. Each purchase of their non-slip cork yoga mats supports vulnerable women in India by providing education and training. These women also make their yoga mat bags from recycled saris. The Action Network helped Lara translate her ideas into core values, and change the way her team communicates internally and to customers. It also helped them to develop a supportive workplace and rethink their team expansion plans to find the most passionate leaders.
GeNNex: Nathaniel Peat
This renewable energy company creates solar products and power solutions for people and businesses in emerging markets - helping the more than a billion people worldwide who live without electricity. They train communities to build, assemble and maintain the devices, providing education and jobs. They also teach STEM subjects in schools, showing students how to build solar lanterns, which are distributed to schools in Africa. As part of the Action Network, the company expanded their core values so they could be understood fully by the team. Workplace culture now has a greater importance with a renewed emphasis on building a family, fun environment and rewarding staff who demonstrate core values.
MBJ LONDON: Toni Horn
This web design company is revolutionising the industry by offering Websites as a Service (WaaS), a one-stop shop for professional website design, development and management. While the company has a strong understanding of core values, the Action Network encouraged them to add core values to new starter onboarding, making them a key part of the induction process. They also celebrated staff by giving Virgin Experience Days to those living the core values.
SHOTS.BY.HANVEY: Chris Hanvey
This media company specialises in commercial photography and film for the fashion and music industries and plans to launch a creative consultancy for social media strategy and content creation soon. Being part of the Action Network helped the founder examine their internal and external processes and create an ethical and commercially viable brand with an inspiring workplace that supports their crew. They’ve also begun to develop a non-profit boxing club for those with chronic mental health issues.
Tudor Drinks: Ian O'Donohue
Harry Brompton’s London Ice Tea is a range of premium British alcoholic and non-alcoholic ice teas. Born in London and made with the finest ethically-sourced Kenyan black teas, they’ve grown from brewing tiny batches on the kitchen table to selling British Ice Tea across 15 countries. The Action Network helped the company develop their core values and use them every day. The core values were added to team induction manuals, were shared online with a beautiful graphic, and an extra day off was given to a staff member living the core values.
Vitae London: William Adoasi
This luxury watch brand integrates beautiful timepieces with social justice. Every purchase equips a child in a developing country for school by supplying them with two sets of uniform, a bag and footwear for the year. The company updated its core values using the Action Network’s guidebook. They were embedded into the recruitment process by being featured in new post ads, and a member of staff was celebrated for showcasing the values.
Native Unearthed: Jade Ollivierre
As a producer of raw deodorants, made from natural crystals, this start-up lives and breathes its core values, using ingredients that aren’t tested on animals and recyclable packaging. They also hold a ‘waste less week’ once a month and even have a wind-powered website. Taking part in the Action Network’s ‘People Challenge’ helped broaden the company’s recognition of how important core values are to a brand, particularly when it comes to rewarding staff and keeping them motivated and interested.
T-Sticks: Ricky Kothari
With a range of expertly-sourced teas from the world’s finest plantations, T-Sticks offers a variety of flavours that come in recycled aluminium sticks, which double up as stirrers. The Action Network helped strengthen the business’s core values in a number of ways, such as improving its staff code, helping the environment, improving on its innovation and ethical supply chain. They also introduced a ‘T-preneur’ of the month in recognition of a staff member who epitomised their core values.
Afrotown Records: Abi Lufadeju
Abi’s record label is dedicated to discovering the best new Afrobeats and African-inspired music, and bringing it to a wider audience. Their diversity helps provide a service to creative individuals and 'musicpreneurs'.
The company used the Action Network to embed their core values into their business’ recruitment and induction process. They’ve also started to communicate their core values externally, sharing them on social media.
Rehab Walk: Chris Barton
A provider of physiotherapy for people affected by neurological conditions and muscular diseases, this company specialises in working with children and young adults. The Action Network’s ‘People Challenge’ really helped the company explore ways to embed core values by introducing a staff member of the month and a poster for the workplace to remind staff about the values.
I Am Squarehead: Simon Frank
With a series of children’s books based on a character called Squarehead, this publisher launched on the back of a successful Kickstarter campaign, which raised the funds they needed in just three days. The Action Network helped the founder promote the core values to the team and customers. They created a wonderful poster for the workplace and shared it on social media. They also launched their ‘One in a million’ club to recognise staff achievements.
Begenio: Grace Olugbodi
This company helps children fall in love with maths by building confidence, making it fun, and reducing mathematical anxiety, all while improving grades and opportunities for successful futures. Their fun-filled board games allow youngsters to use their imagination as they go on a journey while they play, without them realising they are learning. They launched their new, maths board game, Race To Infinity, through the crowdfunding campaign at which raised funds within seven days. They are now pushing for backers for their next target. Taking part in the project allowed the company to embed core values, by including them in a recruitment ad, sharing them on their website and rewarding staff living the values.
Struggling with funding your business, proving the worth of your idea or putting together a business plan? Don't worry, Virgin StartUp have plenty of free guides to help you along the way.