If you can leave your ego at the door as a founder, you can actually grow your business exponentially—you just have to realize that you’re not actually going to be the best at everything.
Yasmin Grigaliunas is the CEO of the World’s Biggest Garage Sale, which aims to activate communities across Australia to clean out their homes and donate their unused or unwanted goods to WBGS events, where the items can receive second or third lifecycles. The profits generated by WBGS are donated to charities, positively impacting local communities.
In this episode of Velocitize Talks, Grigaliunas discusses how a career pivot created her purpose-driven business and how her leadership has evolved along with the company.
A business is born (0:23)
It was a hobby for three years and in the third year we did $90,000. So I quit my job, went all in, no Plan B, and created the World’s Biggest Garage Sale as a formal company.
In 2013, Grigaliunas was fundraising for a local charity where everyone was selling cupcakes, brownies, raffles, etc. in order to make their goal. It was then that she decided to join in with some local friends and sell some of the stuff around their houses.
Before long, there was too much stuff to fit into her garage. They moved to a hall, brought in 50 volunteers, and made $15,000 in one day. A business was born.
Since then, WBGS has raised $314,000 over the past five years for a number of charity benefactors. Additionally, the events connect people “through sustainability and altruism to create a sense of community between event participants.”
Driven by mission (1:33)
We now exist as an organization that designs solutions and systemizes the garage sales. So anyone, anywhere can have their own $100,000+ garage sale in their own community.
WBGS now has 15 locations in Australia and the U.S. that opened up organically. Seeing the need and demand for large-scale garage sales, Grigaliunas has a goal to attend 1,000 events globally in the next five years.
One of the services WBGS offers to help other businesses succeed and strengthen the circular economy is “CANnsulting.” CANsulting helps fellow social enterprises and startups to build their brand and marketing to create a mission-driven business, and to assist with the strategic development and implementation of circular economy practices within the business.
Profit for purpose (2:27)
Our biggest challenge is how to keep the people and planet message so strongly aligned to the culture of our business while we make profit for purpose.
Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is burned or landfilled. “We know the positive mental health benefits of decluttering and we also see the significant community benefits when people do declutter,” says Grigaliunas. “Without having to give money, they’re giving stuff and they know that their stuff is having a positive impact on someone else in the community.”
This cycle promotes the principles of the circular economy through the reuse of unused goods that risk ending up in a landfill in an ever-increasing throw-away society. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, moving to a circular economy requires new business models to maintain the use of safe materials.
Team effort (4:31)
As founders, we can often assume our team understands and knows the journey we’re on. But there’s actually the IP (Intellectual Protocol) in your mind, the stuff that you have to talk about. We need to rise up and talk more about it.
For its first four years, WBGS wasn’t a year-round business; it was an event held one month per year. During that time, the business processes and systems were mainly held in Grigaliunas’s head and as they began to grow, she realized the importance of sharing her “YIP”: Yasmin IP.
Grigaliunas also recognizes the value of the different strengths each employee brings and looks for new employees that “act like the owner,” which represents one of their company’s values. Grigaliunas says she brings in people who are smarter, more talented, and have better ideas than she has. She knows that if she wants to grow the business, she has to leave her ego at the door and realize she isn’t going to be the best at everything.
Follow your passion (7:22)
You have to make money. But are you making money just to make the top 10 people in the world richer, or are you making money to actually bring equality across the nation and the globe?
The average person spends a third of their lifetime at work, about 90,000 hours. Looking for more meaning in their lives, employees are finding ways to marry their work, their values, and their contributions to this world.
Richard Branson coined the phrase, “purpose beyond profit.” Brands are being asked how they can run a purpose-driven business in an authentic way. Grigaliunas acknowledges her own personal desire to live in as minimal a way as possible and to have a positive impact on the world. That’s what has driven her to where she is today. She’s found fulfilling work that allows her to follow her passion and pursue what she is meant to do, while also making the world a better place.
This interview was originally recorded in Brisbane in 2019 and has been updated accordingly.