Impact tomorrow, starting today

Speech presented at the Impact Tomorrow youth entrepreneurship conference and pitch competition on March 28, 2015.

Let’s go back about 120 years. A guy named Henry Ford was determined to build a simple, reliable and affordable car; a car the average worker could afford. His determination resulted in the Model T and the concept of the assembly line — 2 innovations that revolutionized society to this day.

Henry Ford did not invent the car — he produced one that was within the economic reach of the average American. While other manufacturers were happy targeting the rich, he worked to steadily reduce the cost of his cars, instead of pocketing the profit. The result though, is that Ford sold more cars, transforming the car from a luxury toy to a key part of everyday life as we know it.

In Mr. Ford’s words:

“A business that makes nothing but money is a poor business.”

Consider that. I’m not just talking about Corporate Social Responsibility.

Innovators change things. They take new ideas, sometimes their own, sometimes other people’s, and develop and promote those ideas until they become an accepted part of daily life. Innovation requires self-confidence, a taste for taking risks, leadership ability and a vision of what the future should be.

Richard Branson, the famous founder of Virgin Group, has a great book called Screw Business as Usual which I really recommend reading. He says that;

“Screwing business as usual fundamentally recognizes that doing good is good for business.”

If you have a social good project, idea, or organization you’d like to start or grow, ACCESS is here to help. I started this nonprofit while in grade 10 after witnessing extreme poverty in a developing country — this month, we celebrate 9 years and have evolved to help mentor and support projects like this conference, and hopefully many more to come. You can apply at accessinnovation.ca for support.

Guy Kawasaki, who was Apple’s chief evangelist and has helped dozens of Silicon Valley tech startups, has said that;

“The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning — to create a product or service to make the world a better place.”

As someone who has run my own business and nonprofit all throughout school, I know how much time it takes, and I’m happy we’ve all chosen to be here now.

As you go off and start your own business ideas today and hopefully continue with more after you graduate, consider the words of Branson, Kawasaki, and Ford.

You may not “impact tomorow” from what you come up with today alone, but entrepreneurship is a journey and this is a step.

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