Business Stories

Karen Longwith – The HUGE Impact of a Small Business

It’s this. There are more and more opportunities for us as business owners, or perhaps as individuals to give – to make a difference.

Many more businesses and projects have joined the B1G1 movement over the recent years too. And when a myriad of businesses choose their own ways to make a difference, something extraordinary happens.

Yet the uniqueness of those opportunities and actions are often neglected.

Think about your feet for a moment.

And think about the work they do for you in those 10,000 ‘average’ steps we’re all supposed to take each day.

Now imagine, because of what seemed an annoying fungal infection in a toe, you lost your foot, and then your leg at the knee. The impact on you AND those around you would be profound.

That happened to Karen Longwith’s mother more than 5 years ago.

And it played a significant part in Karen not just searching for a solution but opening her first business, Eliminaser, with patented laser treatment as its backbone. This one offering has now grown to a full-scale podiatry clinic: 21st Century Podiatry. The clinic proudly utilises the latest technology and provides the best care in non-surgical, pain-free, effective nail, toe and foot treatments. Treatments that help people with conditions similar to Mrs. Longwith avoid nasty complications and consequences like amputation.

Lead Receptionist Anna Mazurkiewicz (left) smiling for a shot with Karen Longwith

 

Starting Small, Thinking Bigger

The life-changing benefit of the treatment on such a tiny body part is remarkable. And it’s largely because all our body parts are connected in intricate ways, working together to enhance our overall well-being and productivity. Being healthy and pain-free is such an important part of our life and of our ability to contribute to the society and world around us. And Karen wants to bring these benefits to as many people in the world as possible – eliminating needless pain and suffering.

Naturally, being part of the giving community – local and global – is a fundamental operating principle of the clinic. It’s a way to create a truly healthy planet together. But Karen takes that principle even further. And interestingly, it’s one of the Global Goals that helps her do so: Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals.

She puts it this way: “When you realise the importance of the path towards the goal, it simply makes you think bigger. For example, I’ve always believed that partnerships are critical for business success. As such, it is an inherent component of the make-up of our clinic, applicable at every level of operation.”

And when I discovered UN SDG 17: Partnerships for the Goals, they made me think even bigger. For instance, when we’re looking to onboard new clinicians, we find out what they believe their roles are in solving population-level problems – and that’s a big-picture view I believe is a necessity for all those involved in healthcare nowadays.

Most interestingly, Karen is certain that being aligned with the Global Goals absolutely provides a deeper connection with her clients.

“Our clients are always interested when we bring up the wider initiatives the clinic is involved in. In turn, we then learn more about where their passions lie: the activities they, their children and their grandchildren are engaged in.”

She then talks excitedly about how suppliers and industry contacts immediately realise you’re looking to play a bigger game when they realise you’re embracing the SDGs.

Because of that SDG link, Karen has also been asked to participate in trialing new equipment and technology and invited to partake in conversations and arenas that would usually be ‘door shut’. In recent years, Karen and the 21st Century Podiatry clinic are increasingly becoming a part of a network of businesses and organisations with the passion and the power to bring about a change.

“Being small is no obstacle nowadays,” Karen chimes. “In fact, small [businesses, civil society, institutions, and even individuals] joining together has a bigger impact in the longer term.”

A Business that Matters

For Karen, being involved with B1G1 underscores a commitment she’s felt from the very beginning of her business — a commitment to become a business that matters. “There didn’t seem any point in starting a business without that commitment,” she says. “B1G1 rounds that out beautifully for us and it gives real depth to what we do.

As a health practitioner, Karen is personally passionate about providing clean water and sanitation to those who don’t have the access to healthy living conditions. “Clean water provides an easier life, health, a basis for most medications and the ability to keep good hygiene. With a basic necessity taken care of, there’s more time for families to attend to other activities,” says Karen.

Besides giving to these specific causes, as Karen’s enterprise grows, so too does her ability to partner with others and give in other creative ways. For instance, Karen signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, committing the clinic to work out a route to employment for ex-service personnel, as well as engaged with Diabetes UK to expand the knowledge of successful remission of Type II (or ‘Lifestyle’) Diabetes. Karen’s active participation in the B1G1 giving community also adds to the holistic impact she and her business is making on the world.

All of this is visibly demonstrated on a dedicated webpage on their site too – and it’s beautifully titled ‘Impact’.

Karen summarises her giving philosophy as such:

“The more we do, the more we can do. For me, that’s how we can create a business that continues to matter, year after year.”

Now you can see how even a tiny toenail can make a massive impact.

 


21st Century Podiatry is B1G1 Legacy Maker for the week of 4 February 2019. By sponsoring the B1G1 giving space for a week, 21st Century Podiatry has enabled thousands of giving impacts to be created around the world.

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About Paul Dunn

Paul is the chairman at B1G1 and a hugely respected and admired business leader too. He’s a 4-times TEDx speaker and he frequently travels around the world inspiring businesses with B1G1 and his amazing business insights.

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