Furniture Box entrepreneurs, Dan and Monty, tell us why businesses ‘giving back’ is so important
Pictured above, left to right: Furniture Box founders, Monty George and Dan Beckles
We’re hearing more about companies conducting corporate socially responsible (CSR) business, how does this manifest itself at Furniture Box?
This has always been important for us at Furniture Box and is part of our company ethos. Over the past year, we’ve grown at lot, and want to find ways to ‘give back’, both in terms of our environmental footprint and in being socially responsible. One example is the partnership we've developed with KFR, a charity local to us that donates furniture to families in need. We give them all our unwanted but reusable furniture. We’ve also reviewed all of our packaging and office materials, with a view to using more recyclable, sustainable and eco-friendly material.
Last year we ran a scheme to give away cash rewards to NHS staff and other key workers. Using social media to run the campaign, we encouraged people to tag their friends and family who worked in these roles as a way of saying thank you.
The ethos of being socially responsible applies to our own staff, as well as how we conduct our business externally. We like to think of our employees as an extended family – it’s important that we create a culture where we all look out for each other. We have a team of 30 people – in customer service, our warehouse and managing our technology. Everyone is part of the Furniture Box family. This applies in a practical way, being a good employer offering generous terms and benefits to our staff. We also offer individual support. If a member of our team is struggling with a particular issue, we try to be as supportive as possible. We know that our staff are our most important asset and want to treat them accordingly.
When you set up your business, was CSR one of your considerations?
When we set out to build our business, we wanted to get the fundamentals right, being socially responsible was part of this. We understood that being a successful business would enable us to help others. The two things go hand in hand, from how we select our suppliers and run the business to how we treat our staff. Every decision we make is predicated on being a socially responsible business.
Why did you choose to give to Field Lane and its appeal to fund a special educational needs teacher?
It really struck a chord with us. We believe everyone has the potential to lead a fulfilling life. We’ve been very fortunate in our lives. A lot of people just don’t appreciate how tough life can be if you’re disadvantaged in some way, such as with a learning disability. This past year, with lockdown, it has been doubly difficult, not being able to access the support that is available during normal circumstances to help develop life skills. Both our mums are teachers, so we know the value of education. Without having access to it can reduce the life chances for many, denying them the opportunity to lead independent and fulfilling lives. We are extremely proud to support Field Lane and will continue to do so.
How are you planning to grow your business, whilst maintaining your CSR stance?
We have ambitions to grow and expand into new markets. But maintaining our credibility as a socially responsible business is always at the forefront of our thinking. As we grow, we want to retain the ethical way we do business and work towards us having a more positive impact on society. How we treat our staff is central to this. We listen to staff and encourage them to contribute ideas, such as how and what we donate to charity. We want them to enjoy what they do for a living. Having that family ethos is so important. We want everyone at Furniture Box to uphold and live by these same values.
We have grown as a business in the last six months and taken on more people in management roles, which has freed us up to focus on the bigger picture and the future. We have been fortunate as a business, so the onus is on us now to help others. We can do this by supporting charities, such as Field Lane and in how we source our products, looking to support UK manufacturers and suppliers, which in turn will help reduce our carbon footprint.
You have established a successful business from a relatively young age, what would you say to other young entrepreneurs looking to start up on their own?
We want to inspire and champion other young people starting out. Our main message would be to not be afraid of taking a risk or making mistakes. We are always learning from our mistakes. It helps us to think about how we can do better and do more. There is real value in trial and error. It’s also important not to wait for the ‘perfect conditions’ – these may never come. Just go ahead and give it a go; however small you start. We’re lucky to have the two of us to bounce ideas off and have developed Furniture Box together. We want to share our experiences and what we’ve learned by mentoring other young people who are just starting out.
We’d like to share two important pieces of advice we were given when we were starting out: 1) “find time to work on your business, not just in your business’; and 2) “don’t be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try”.