The Mission Driven Business Podcast Episode 18: Social Enterprise for Literacy with Brian Floriani

Brian chats with Brian Floriani, a golf professional turned literacy advocate and entrepreneur who has founded two companies dedicated to improving literacy in the U.S. Brian’s latest enterprise, Freadom, was founded in late 2020 as a purpose-driven lifestyle brand that uses 100% of its proceeds for literacy initiatives.

On the episode, Brain Floriani talks about how he is using a social enterprise model to turn the traditional approach to social giving on its head. He also discusses how values can help Freadom’s direction and shares numerous adages to aid aspiring social entrepreneurs.

Episode Highlights

Mission-driven businesses strive for more than success.

Brain Floriani differentiates between success and significance, noting success is about personal accomplishments and significance is about the accomplishments of other people. He sees a similar distinction when defining a mission-driven business versus an ordinary one.

“A mission-driven business is driven mostly by purpose, and the purpose of something that’s greater than being successful in a business that’s usually driven by and measured by money,” he said. “It’s a business that is focused on significance, not success.”

No margin. No mission.

For Freadom, being a mission-driven business means scaling a business that will give 100% of its net profits to literacy programs. But to get there, Brain Floriani had to think outside of the box of what a charitable company can be. It’s something he learned while running his first business, a successful literary nonprofit called Bernie’s Book Bank.

“When you’re running a nonprofit, you’re running a business where your productivity is directly related to revenue,” Brian Floriani said. “That’s a tough way to run a business.”

Brain Floriani felt strongly that he needed a business where revenue can be scaled. He saw a social enterprise model, like one employed by Newman’s Own, as a viable solution. As he once heard a mentor say: ‘No margin. No mission.’

“Money is a reality,” Brain Floriani said. “And if you’re not profitable, especially for us, you’re not properly going to get it right.”

Know and espouse your values.

Freadom lists its values on a “We believe” page on its website. This declaration helps visitors get a clear understanding of what Freadom is and what motivates the team, but it also serves as guideposts for the company.

“That’s important because you need guideposts to fall back on when you need to make important decisions,” Brain Floriani said. “Does it reflect what we believe?”

Brain Floriani developed those values first as a stream of consciousness exercise that turned into a full brand narrative. He performed a similar routine two years into running Bernie’s Book Bank.

“We operate like a business, and we think like a brand,” he said.

Resources + Links

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.