EP 132: Choosing The B Corp Life with Buzz Food Truck Founder Michael Sirianni

The Nitty Gritty

  • Why Michael created Buzz, a rock-and-roll infused sandwich shop on wheels
  • How he infused his personal values into Buzz — and how those values extend into the culture of the company
  • Everything Michael learned from taking the B Impact Assessment
  • How becoming a B Corp positively impacts Buzz, its employees, and the community
  • What running a responsible business means to Michael

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Today on What Works, we welcome Michael Sirianni, owner of Buzz, a mobile rock-and-roll inspired sandwich shop serving the Lancaster, Pennsylvania community. But Buzz is about so much more than egg and cheese sandwiches: as a B Corp certified business, Michael runs his restaurant-on-wheels a bit differently than most.

Listen to the entire conversation with Michael to hear all the details on what B Corp certification is, why sustainability is an important foundation for running any business, and how the B Corp certification benefits Buzz, its employees, and the community.

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How B Corp Certification aligns Michael’s company and personal values

“I’m a firm believer that a company’s values need to drive and reflect what your customers, vendors, and employees value. In addition to that, those values should be rooted in kindness, fairness, and generosity.” — Michael Sirianni

Most of us go into business because we see possibility for a better world — and we see how we can help make it so. That’s definitely true for Michael, who, after years working in the food industry, felt that his B Corp business matched his personal values. “I think that’s who I always saw myself as a leader in business,” Michael adds. “I could not be more happy that B Corp came along and now my personality matches my professional desire.” For him, making Buzz a B Corp certified business made it possible to make an even bigger impact than without it.

What Michael learned from taking the B Corp Assessment

“I sat down with my books and said I can’t really afford to do this. I can’t afford to give everyone a living wage and bring home X of profit. But that’s what the whole thing’s about. It’s about saying profits need to be sacrificed for the betterment of my staff. When you give somebody a living wage, they’re less likely to leave, they learn more, they grow more, they’re more invested, they become a bigger part of your company in the long run, they’re less likely work a second job because they have less of an economic need so they’re available more hours to you. There are all these positives about it. That’s the thing I learned most and simultaneously the thing I’m proudest about.” — Michael Sirianni

Going through The B Corp assessment, Michael realized that if he truly wanted to create the company he was the proudest of, he needed to be able to pay his staff a living wage. That meant that he’d take home less profit — but, to Michael, it’s worth it because it results in happier and healthier employees. In addition, providing stable, living-wage jobs to his employees results in a stronger community.

What responsibility in business looks like

“Are you doing what’s right for your community? Because they’re your customers and they’re your future employees. The private sector, as we define it, absolutely has a responsibility to make themselves a part of the solution and a part of progress.” — Michael Sirianni

B Corp certification is Business Sustainability 101. “Everyone should do it,” Michael argues because it forces you to look at every aspect of your business — from the way you hire and train your employees to how you give back to the community to how you approach environmental sustainability. With that foundation, the greater impact you have, no matter if you’re a startup or a business vet.

Hear more from Michael Sirianni on B Corp certification, sustainable business models, and responsibility as a founder, and much more, in this episode of What Works.

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EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

EP 299: How To Design Your Own Sales System

This week, I’ve got 4 more stories to share with you from small business owners who have intentionally done things their own way when it comes to sales and selling. They’ve found what truly works for them–even if it bucks the prevailing wisdom or would make a bro marketing expert role his or her eyes.

These stories come from business coach Ashley Gartland, marketing expert Amy Lippmann, designer Mel Richards, and work reinvention coach Lydia Lee.

Listen for how they incorporated these same considerations into finding their own unique sales systems. They designed their systems with personal values, strong relationships, reduced anxiety, and agency in mind.

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

EP 298: Creating A Less Harmful Sales System with Wanderwell Founder Kate Strathmann

This show is called What Works for a reason.

Sometimes it’s a declaration: this is what worked for this small business. And often, it’s a question, “What works?”

Today’s episode is very much a question, many questions, really:

What works when it comes to selling when you want to avoid manipulative or exploitative practices?

What works when your values conflict with many of the best practices of selling online but you still want people to buy your stuff?

What works when it comes to sales in a business that is actively anti-racist and anti-capitalist?

And even more bluntly: Can you even sell things without causing harm or perpetuating harmful systems?

My friend Kate Strathmann is the founder of Wanderwell, a bookkeeping and consulting firm that grows thriving businesses while investigating new models for being in business.

Recently, Kate took a bit of a detour from how she’s used to building her business, which is 90% referral based and fueled by deep relationship- and community-building. She decided to offer a small group program called the Equitable Business Incubator as a way of exploring anti-capitalist business practices and how they apply to the small businesses we’re building.

To fill the program, Kate need to sell differently.

Which led her to asking the question: Can you even sell things as a anti-capitalist?

While that might not be your specific question, I have a feeling that you too have wondering how you can effectively sell your offers without causing harm, perpetuating harmful systems, or damaging relationships. And that’s why I knew Kate and I needed to explore this topic on the show.

This is a conversation about what a kinder, less harmful sales process could look like—and it probably contains more questions than answers. But I’m confident those questions can help you find the answers that are right for you and the sales system that you want to build to make your business stronger.

We start out by defining what we’re really talking about when we talk about capitalism and anti-capitalism. Then, Kate shares how the Equitable Business Incubator came to be and how she ended up selling it. And then we dig into what makes many of the sales formulas and best practices being taught today problematic—and how to think differently to create your own alternative practices.

Now, let’s take a look at what works for creating less harmful sales systems!

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

EP 297: Selling A New Program With Proof To Product Founder Katie Hunt

Today’s guest is Katie Hunt—who is a member of the former group and serves the latter group.

Katie is the founder of Proof To Product, which helps creative entrepreneurs run and grow thriving product-based businesses. She works with designers, illustrators, and artists to help them develop in-demand product lines and get them sold in stores all over the world.

Not long after the pandemic threw her business and the industry she serves for a major loop, Katie and her team launched Proof To Product Labs to provide a completely digital, ongoing support opportunity for business owners when they needed it most.

And that launch was a smash.

Katie and I get into all of the nuts and bolts of how she adjusted the offer to meet the moment and how she warmed up her audience before the campaign, as well as the exact mix of emails, podcast ads, and social media content she used to sell the offer when it went live. We also talk about how she sees the sales system evolving in the future and how the offer has been received now that people are using it!

What Works offers in-depth, well-researched content that strips away the hype of the 21st-century economy. Whether you love the podcast, the articles, or the Instagram content, we’d love your support