Coming out of school buried in debt is not a good feeling. For Dave Hale, it was the motivation needed to excel and become a successful entrepreneur by his mid-20s. Dave started a technology service business that slowly helped him climb out of debt and turn his company, Soshal, into one of the top providers of design and technology solutions for purpose-driven businesses in Canada’s capital. His ethos today is simple: be the best in the business and use this success to support the community. But at 20, even though he had grown up in a community, Dave didn’t have a deep understanding of the importance of community and the role it would play in his life. A few years in, he found himself feeling unfulfilled and realized his business hadn’t captured the hearts and souls of his team.
“One day, after a stressful week, someone said, ‘Hey, we aren’t trying to cure cancer here.' I thought
about it for a minute and said, ‘Actually we are, and how we will do this is by helping our hospitals
attract the best medical experts in the world and maybe one of them will come over and cure cancer.'
We also took it a step further and agreed that we couldn’t cure cancer very well by helping to sell
products that caused cancer. Everyone understood and got behind the goal.”
A short while later, Dave huddled with his management team and dug deeper into the enthusiasm for the idea that everyone had a role to play to solve community problems. What emerged was a renewed and shared view that there was a need to build their own sense of community and to support
organizations that shared their values and sense of purpose. In practice, this meant that Soshal would generate 50% of their revenue from organizations with purpose-driven or cause-oriented missions.
Today, more than 80% of the work Soshal does supports these organizations, and the team has been known to give back by creating campaigns and platforms in-kind to help charities and foundations achieve their goals.
“You can touch community," he said. "It’s tangible – you buy what you need from local merchants and support local commerce and the economy, you work with colleagues and develop a professional community that can leverage its talents and skills to make a difference. That is the sense of community that we all share and that we rely on when we do business. This is why we decided to create a profit for purpose
business model. Basically, looking outward, we aim to make Soshal the best company in its class while
helping out purpose-driven organizations. When we look inward at this model, we focus on why we do
what we do and connect to our human values. We take it a step further by rewarding our team well for
being valuable community players. We encourage them to use their economic power and skills to
give back to our local community as often as they can. Many of them take the role of community
supporter very seriously and translate this into everyday decisions like buying their coffee from a local
roaster rather that a large corporate chain.”
Final thoughts from this budding entrepreneur sum it up well: “In the end, we want our business to matter, to those we help to achieve success and to our community. We know where we stand, we like ourselves at the end of the day. It doesn’t get much better than this.”