Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Inspired Way to Do Business: In the Bag Cleaners & L3Cs

As I perused social media during our US Labor Day weekend I was especially struck by a picture shared from a colleague of a dry cleaning business in the Wichita area called "In the Bag Cleaners".

No one really knows who captured the image but the message is inspiring thousands of people: 

"If you are unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview, we will clean it for free!  When times are tough, we will help you look your best." -Dave Coyle (Owner)

After I saw the message, it made my heart believe again that business can meet social needs while also letting current customers know that In the Bag Cleaners will be there for them if they are ever needed.

How much more would this business get new customers and loyalty from current customers knowing that this business goes above and beyond to those who are unemployed...all those intagible things that drive profits that don't just impact a financial statement.  I love it!

Right before seeing this picture, I was just reading about a new business entity called L3Cs, which is short for "low-profit limited liability corporation".  This new entity is something I'm looking into and what I love about it is that unlike "social entrepreneurship", it is intended to bridge the gap between non-profit and for-profit goals for business owners, investors and shareholders. 

L3Cs are structures that are socially beneficial, for-profit ventures.  The key is that the business must have a stated goal of performing a socially beneficial purpose, not maximizing profit.  And recently, the United States Internal Revenue Service recently ruled that L3Cs could be the recipients of Foundation dollars. (as noted by Wikipedia)

I see a huge future opportunity for business that want to balance profitability with social impact.  They will be increasingly popular amongst those creating businesses because it is a proven model that!

So for all you women-owned businesses out there, consider how you can use your business for a greater good beyond the immediate profit need and we will all win!  Let the example of great community businesses like In the Bag Cleaners inspire you to extend your products or services for a much greater social benefit!

Curva-Lish Team 

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