HQ Boardroom Discussion with Scott Ko: Business and Purpose (Part 2)

By: Lucy Kim Contributors: Andrea Flair Nathan

More people are increasingly becoming aware of what businesses say and do, and in turn, there is an accelerated increase in conscious consumers. In the first part, we explored the spectrum of business with purpose, and some of the factors that must be considered when running a purpose-driven business, both positive and negative. Here is the second part of the key takeaways from the HQ Boardroom Discussion with Scott Ko (Founder of ColourSpace).

How to become a business with a purpose or bring purpose to your existing business?


► Starts with the individual. You have to really care about the business and if you’re stuck, start with the people. Begin by learning and understanding what is your business’ purpose, why you want to do what you plan to do, and how it is impacting the environment and the community. 

► Start somewhere. Anywhere. It can be daunting when there is a large number of things one can consider and try to tick every box (sustainability, circularity, gender equality, and disadvantaged communities). The reality is, solving the world’s problem is too big. Start from the consumer level and stay focused on a few elements. As your business scale, you and your business will be more ready to become more complex then.

► Leadership really matters. Depending on the leader and the image that they present on the business, it will shape how the business operates, the motivation of employees and the impression given to the market. 


Conflict Between Business and Purpose


► What is the role of the Not-for-profit sector? And how do they provide services to recover the cost? Scott affirms business and startup owners should not be afraid to charge consumers for services in order to recover costs. An important aspect in doing this is to be careful with how you frame your services and how you are charging it to specific segments of your target market and playing to what they care about. For example, a not-for-profit organisation by a celebrity chef wants to make a difference by providing food for the homeless and financially-struggling communities. This celebrity chef funds this initiative by hosting paid cooking classes for the financially-comfortable individuals who, in turn, donate and distribute the cooked food to the disadvantaged communities.

► It is also important to consider the macro and micro impact. Running a purpose-driven business may be easier when small in scale, but this is likely to change if the business grows and changes are likely to be made to be still sustainable.


Defining and Constructing Your Unique Value Proposition


The key to constructing a unique value proposition is to understand who you’re talking to. From there, you can craft a Unique Value Proposition (UVP) that is relevant to them and solves their problem.

Scott illustrates this with ColourSpace in the initial years of his startup journey, the business was faced by various challenges and was losing track of where to be heading towards. To hone ColourSpace’s UVPs, Scott approached his clients and questioned why they have chosen ColourSpace, what they found attractive about ColourSpace for the job. The response was that they wanted to create a warm, friendly environment at an affordable cost; this given invaluable feedback ultimately helped shape ColourSpace’s UVP and further honed their purpose. 

The UVP was then: to help refurbish businesses space to send a positive message to their employees and improve their mental health while also supporting local artists. The business goal was not thrown away, but it was about how their brand is communicated and articulated to clients. Sometimes, social core and impact are not enough and it is solely about how you craft the UVP to every relevant stakeholder.

Finding your business’ UVP requires effort and time. It is unlikely to stay the same as what you initially started with. Scott recommends pivoting your UVP and taking corporations from the market. It will take time to understand what it will mean for your business, and it will be a journey backed by user feedback. It will be refined again and again for the optimal UVP of your business.


Ending Note…

There is a definite increase in interest and demand for business with a purpose, but much more needs to be done. Now more than ever, startups, investors, and corporates, need to place their impact on society on the dashboard, and purposefully work towards driving positive change.


This is the second part of the HQ Boardroom Discussion with Scott Ko: Business and Purpose Blog. Read Part 1 here.


Disclaimer: The information provided in the webinar and in this blog is strictly for educational purposes to explain government incentives and startups, and it does not constitute investment, accounting, financial, legal or tax advice. It has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.