Brian chats with Matthew Hoffman, the founder of You Are Beautiful, a Chicago-based company that uses art to provide kindness, compassion, and community when it’s needed most. On the episode, Matthew shared how he became an accidental entrepreneur and some of the hard lessons he’s learned as a business owner and artist. He also digs deep into using feedback to grow and refine your business.
Mission-driven businesses have a message.
When Matthew started making his signature You Are Beautiful stickers that would eventually become a business, he had a clear message that he wanted to share with the world. He thinks the same kind of purposeful messaging separates mission-driven businesses from the rest.
“It’s all about having a clear mission or message and trying to share that with the world,” Matthew said.
You can be an “accidental” entrepreneur.
Some people start a business with the desire to be an entrepreneur. But other entrepreneurs, like Matthew, don’t originally dream of running their own businesses. In Matthew’s case, growing demand from his community was the catalyst to take his sticker business online and for profit.
“I say I am sort of an accidental business owner because for the first years, the stickers were absolutely free, then people were begging me to let them buy them,” Matthew said. “I finally began to offer them for sale on the website … and that began growing the community even bigger.”
Treat customers and employees well.
One tip that Matthew shared throughout the podcast is the importance of treating people the way you want to be treated. Recognizing that he can’t build a business alone, Matthew tries to cultivate a family-style company culture that is fun, drama-free, and supportive. He also prioritizes the customer experience with dedicated customer service and an online review system.
“To find those people that support you and help fill you up is critical,” he said.
Grow from your mistakes.
While Matthew always strove to overdeliver through his business, his track record hasn’t been perfect. After his stickers appeared on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday program, You Are Beautiful got so many orders that he couldn’t fulfill them all and his payment system didn’t allow him to reach customers with updates. That experience led him to overhaul his approach to e-commerce in order to deliver the premium service he wanted to give customers.
“I didn’t want to disappoint or upset, and I always want to overdeliver,” Matthew said. “That allowed me to set up a really successful and rigorous system.”
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About Brian and the Mission Driven Business Podcast
Brian Thompson, JD/CFP, is a tax attorney and certified financial planner who specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning to LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs who run mission-driven businesses. The Mission Driven Business podcast was born out of his passion for helping social entrepreneurs create businesses with purpose and profit.
On the podcast, Brian talks with diverse entrepreneurs and the people who support them. Listeners hear stories of experiences, strength, and hope and get practical advice to help them build businesses that might just change the world, too.