Innovation Destination Hartford first connected with Jenn T. Grace in 2018 to learn about her Connecticut-based publishing company Publish Your Purpose (PYP). Content Manager Nan Price recently reconnected with Jenn to learn more about her passion for businesses committed to making a social impact.
NAN PRICE: Let’s start with your connection with reSET. How did you become involved with the organization?
JENN T. GRACE: I was introduced to reSET Executive Director Sarah Bodley several years ago. PYP is a benefit corporation, and Sarah and I connected over our passion for B Corps. We share the commonality of the motto, which is “business is a force for good.”
In the fall of 2019, Sarah asked if I wanted to be on reSET’s board. I joined in January of 2020. I love reSET’s mission and it’s nice to be involved in a Hartford-based organization.
NAN: Speaking of B Corps, tell us about your new venture.
JENN: I initially hired Impact Growth Partners to help with the B Corps certification for PYP. My company is LGBT-certified and woman-owned certified. The process for those certifications is nothing compared to how hard it is to obtain B Corp certification. I got halfway through the assessment and I reached out for help.
When I connected with CEO and Founder Jenifer Gorin, I fell in love with their whole team. Last August, we were kicking the idea around of starting a B Local community, which are place-based communities of people focused on the B Corp motto.
We’re officially launching a Connecticut B Local in October in New Haven with special guests Annie Lamont and Vincent Stanley from Patagonia.
NAN: What would you advise others thinking of getting a B Corp certification?
JENN: Many people go into it thinking their business isn’t big enough or they don’t have enough infrastructure or they’re too new, but I think that’s the perfect time to get certified. You can take an impact assessment, which is a long survey that gauges your impact on the environment, your hiring practices, and your commitment to diversity and sustainability.
Once you do the assessment, you can see where you land, and then you can see areas where you may need improvement and hire experts if you don’t know what you’re doing. For example, reSET offers support.
If you’re a startup, as we all know, you’ve got 9,000 fish to fry. It can be overwhelming to add becoming B Corp certified into the mix, but it’s a huge part of a business strategy and a marketing strategy. It’s more of a movement of people. And people make a lot of purchasing decisions based on whether a business is B Corp certified.
NAN: Let’s talk about your entrepreneurial growth. Any advice or lessons to share?
JENN: Being an entrepreneur is in my DNA. The thing I’m focusing on right now, which I wish I’d done a little earlier, is thinking about scaling before you need to. There are so many things you can do slightly differently that can save you a lot of pain further down the road.
For example, PYP sends birthday cards to all our authors and people collaborating with us. We also send a card and a candle if someone has a family member or pet pass away. It’s a very manual process. We were recently talking about the possibility of doing something more automated, where we can put everybody’s birthday in a system. But I realized, I don’t want it to be automated because it loses the personal touch.
It’s the idea of scaling by automating things. So, you have to make those tough decisions, but other things are super easy to start thinking about, like how do you teach other people how to do what you do? That way, you’re not the end all be all bottleneck of your own company. Those are the two things PYP is currently in the throes of as we’re on the tail end of our rebrand.
The public-facing rebrand looks done, but behind the scenes a lot still needs to be done because so many documents have to be recreated, processes have to be adjusted, and videos, tutorials, and trainings need to be recreated.
My to-do list is really long. I’ll never get to all of it. But, if I just do one thing every day, I’ll feel better about it.
With the idea of scaling in mind, when I’m recording videos, I now say “Founder” not “CEO,” even though I am the CEO, because I want it to live on if for some reason I’m not in the CEO role.
Sometimes it’s the little things, just thinking about having someone else do something for you if you weren’t doing it yourself. It doesn’t make it easy, but it makes you think of things differently—which I think is good. It also helps to bring in input from other people to figure out how things will impact them.