No one makes you start a business. It’s always a choice. It’s not easier than working for someone else, and making money with a new business is far from guaranteed. Unless you have deeper reasons, why do one thing versus another? What are you trying to do? With getting involved with any business, you have to know: What are you really trying to accomplish in the world beyond simply paying the loans back and making a profit after that?
The deeper reasons we have for doing anything are the difference between a fulfilling life and one that seems to have a leak in it. One of my deeper reasons for doing what I do, one of the things I love and value most in life, is making a difference in the lives of others.
Making a difference is one reason why I love to coach and help others discover and realize their vision in life. It is also one of the reasons why I love being an entrepreneur. How we make a difference is what I want to talk about with you today.
Recently, I was able to see in a whole new light how one of my companies, Katan Technologies, truly makes a difference. To see how many lives we touch is thrilling.
Last year, two Olympic teams signed on with Katan for sanitation protection, and three more Olympic teams have signed up this year. Hospitals, hotels, restaurants, dairy processors, and more are all using Katan’s products, and we’re working on bringing them to Baldwin’s poultry customers. Good stuff. But that’s not what’s thrilling.
What was thrilling was what I saw on on a tour of a customer’s rose farm in Bogota, Colombia. Our customer pointed to some workers spraying roses. The workers wore regular, everyday clothes. They told me that this was possible because of Katan. What? How?
Industrial agriculture, even for roses, is far from gardening. It’s manufacturing that also contends with the random elements of nature. One of the elements they need to control is contamination, and they use whatever it takes to do the job right. In the past, the best products were so toxic that the workers had to be fully protected in hazmat “moon suits,” with full-face oxygen masks. The spray was so harmful to humans that their greenhouses had to be ventilated for six hours before anyone was able to go back in and work.
With our product, the workers had nothing to worry about. Because of us, a space suit is no longer required to grow roses on Earth.
I knew we were a “green” company. I knew our products were “nontoxic” and “environmentally friendly,” and I knew all of these had serious impact on the bottom line, too. But these phrases on paper meant nothing compared to seeing the difference with my own eyes: seeing actual people and places no longer in harm’s way because our products were better. When a safer product is the best one, it makes a huge difference to a lot of people. I know this for real now.
I also have a new appreciation for what it means to make a difference. It makes me look at all my businesses differently. Another of my companies, Worry Free Pedi, invented a footbath tablet that gets rid of germs, fungi, and everything else you don’t want to touch. Any time you make something great, it makes a difference. After my rose farm experience, I wonder how Worry Free Pedi’s product, as simple as it sounds, is making a difference in ways I can’t guess.
It’s humbling and moving to deepen my experience and understanding of how, by creating our businesses, we truly are making a difference and touching many lives. What a powerful reward it is to know that for sure. I realized on that day in Colombia that all the businesses and projects we are involved with don’t just make a difference by employing people and creating opportunities and wealth, as great as that is. The world, on that rose farm and in many other places, is better now than it was before. It’s true: we canmake a real difference in the world with our choices.
So, with all of this in mind, I want to share with you one of my favorite concepts: “What Do You Really Want?” If you choose to work through this concept, you will have new clarity on what really drives you, and what really matters. If you have trouble starting, it can help to think about what you don’t want, and work from there. However you do it, the time we spend calmly and mindfully questioning and exploring our deepest truths and highest values is repaid many times over, as it empowers us to understand what is meaningful to us so we can go on creating the story of our life.
Great actions come from great thinking, and great thinking comes from great questions.
If you don’t do this for you, who will?
Happy learning, and cheers to making a difference!