We recognize that students are busy. Course assignments, on- and off-campus employment and personal obligations may make it impossible for you to join us in person. Our resources, curated by students and updated each year, provide ready access to information you need to improve your financial literacy and develop an entrepreneurial mindset.
There are two important components to a budget: income and outflow. Check out any one the following resources designed to help you track your every dollar to ensure that your outflow doesn't exceed your income.
How to Make a Personal Budget from The Balance: Six steps to help you create a personal budget.
The 50/30/20 Budget from NerdWallet: A budgeting strategy that will help you prioritize your expenses, needs/wants, and savings.
The Easy Guide to Budgeting from MoneyGeek.com: Simple guide to budgeting for college students and families.
How to Make a Budget with CNBC: For most of us accumulating money is not the issue, but understanding how to allocate and spend it so that something is left over takes time. This video breaks down how you can make the most out of your income by planning your expenses ahead of time.
Student Budget Plans that Work: Creating a student budget plan is an important step every student can take to assess his or her financial wellness. A college student budget can help you keep track of your expenses, analyze your assets and income and set financial goals for yourself.
College Budgeting Videos
- What College Students Need to Know About Money!
- Financial Literacy in College
- Financial Literacy: Nine Things a College Student Should Know
Blank Budgeting Sheets
Budgeting from Your Phone or Other Device
- Goodbudget: Budget Planner: This budgeting application mimics the "envelope budget system" where money is pooled into different categories each time you get paid. This application allows you to create a budget, track your income, expenses, spending habits, and debt journey. This is ideal for someone who either doesn't budget consistently or has an inconsistent income, but needs somewhere to start. This application allows one free account with access from 2 different devices, and limited "envelopes".
- YNAB (You Need a Budget): This application mimics the "zero-based budgeting system" where every dollar is planned to be spent. Income = Expenses. This budgeting system would be ideal for someone looking to budget on a long-term basis with a consistent income. This application is free for students for up to 12 months (upon verification)!
You can often find discounted airline tickets on these sites. Once you find a good deal from these websites, go directly to the official site of the flight company, and you will get an even cheaper price most of the time.
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants Personal Financial Planning Center: Information on CPA/PFS (Certified Public Accountant/Personal Financial Specialist) professionals, how to find one, as well as general information and resources for financial planning.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards: Provides information and resources both to financial planning professionals and to consumers. A list of "Top Ten Questions to Ask When Choosing a Financial Planner"
Guide to H-1B Visas : The application process, occupation eligibility, the visa cap, top positions, companies, and more are all covered in this free guide. The guide will be updated on a regular basis.
Women for Hire: A hub of recruitment services for women, this site offers career expos, blogs and feature articles as well as an online job board that connects leading employers with professional women.
Women on Business: The goal of Women on Business is to expand the international network of businesswomen online by promoting conversation on common issues.
Credit is borrowed money that you can use to purchase things you need when you need them and then repay the funds back at an agreed time. Services can also be paid for on credit such as cable and telephone services. For example, if you use telephone or cable services for a month or two and then pay for them at the end of that period, you are receiving services on credit. Common types of credit include student loans, mortgages, as well as personal loans or lines of credit. The most common "personal line of credit" is the credit card. Source: wiseGeek.com
Credit cards can be useful tools or dangerous weapons, depending on how you use them. Here are some resources for learning how credit cards work, and how to be a smart credit card user.
Bankrate: This page is a portal to information on nearly every aspect of credit card ownership, including current interest rates, types of credit cards, the pros and cons of credit card use, how to avoid and/or manage credit card debt, and more.
Choosing and Using Credit Cards: This page provides an overview of credit card terminology, credit card costs and features, information on what to look for when shopping for a credit card, and how to protect your cards and personal information.
Credit Card Insider: the latest information on what card company to choose from.
Credit Card Debt
The average credit card debt in America is $8,400 and the typical American family pays $1,200 a year in interest on credit card debt.Source: www.bankrate.com.
Credit Card Definitions: Includes detailed information on credit card terms.
Eight Things A Credit Card User Should Know: This page details crucial information anyone who uses a credit card, or who is thinking about obtaining one, should know.
Good vs Bad Debt: Learn the difference between good debt and bad debt.
Smart Ways for College Students to Use Credit Cards: This page informs college students of the pitfalls of credit cards and provides tips about using credit cards wisely.
Opt Out of Prescreened Offers: OptOutPrescreen.com is the official consumer credit reporting industry website to accept and process requests from consumers to be removed from all lists of unsolicited offers of credit or insurance. You can also contact them by calling 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888-567-8688).
Credit repair is of immense importance and the need of the hour for all those who hold bad credit.
Having bad or poor or sub-prime credit is like bearing a curse. Holders of bad or adverse credit are disadvantaged in all their loan or credit seeking ventures. They are either not provided the loans they apply for or they are made to pay higher interest rates and made to accept certain unfavorable terms while settling for their loans.
Credit repair is the only way to be redeemed from the miseries of bad credit holding. The special significance of credit repair stems from the fact that a consumer's credit record or credit score is considered to influence her/his future purchasing power and eligibility of having any credit facilities in the future. Thus, lenders or creditors can feel confident in extending lower rates of interest and longer terms on credit card balances and all types of loans car loans, home loans.
Credit/Debt Management: Blemished credit is both stressful and costly, but it's not the end. There are 10 things you can do right now to begin improve your credit score.
Credit Repair: How to Help Yourself: Provides information about credit repair scams. It outlines ways for you to repair your own credit.
Secret History of the Credit Card...Where You Can Go: Resources for those who find themselves in financial trouble because of credit card debt.
Spotting Credit Repair, Counseling Scams: Tips for avoiding scam credit repair companies.
The 5 Biggest Mistakes People Make When Repairing Their Credit: Find out some common mistakes people make when trying to "fix" their credit which can be easily avoided.
Credit Reporting Agencies
It is your right to obtain your credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies FOR FREE once a year to see what is reported by your creditors (loan issuers, banks, utility companies, etc.) about your payment behavior.
These agencies are:
It's a good idea to check your credit reports at least once a year to make sure everything is reported accurately and to correct any errors that you might find there. In today's society, your credit reports will also help you determine if someone has illegally obtained your information and/or is using your identity. You can obtain your free credit reports through AnnualCreditReport.com.
NOTE: Colorado, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont state laws also entitled their residents to one free copy from each agency at any time during a twelve-month period. This means residents of these states can request TWO FREE reports per agency per year. You can receive a free copy of your credit report under other circumstances: if you've been turned down for a loan, you can get a copy of your report from the agency whose information the creditor used if you request it within 30 days of being turned down. You can also request a free credit report if you're unemployed and looking for work, receiving public assistance or a victim of fraud.
Understanding Your Credit Score
Information about your credit use and payment habits is reported by your creditors - credit card companies, student loan lenders, mortgage companies, auto lenders, and more - which becomes your "financial resume."
This information is then used to generate a three digit credit score, ranging from 300-850, which helps lenders determine whether to extend you credit as well as the interest rate you'll be charged. Many employers and landlords now check your credit history and score as an important indicator of your "financial character."
Credit Scores: What You Should Know About Your Own: This page thoroughly explains the credit reporting system and gives helpful advice to consumers concerning their credit report and score.
FICO Score Estimator: Answer ten easy questions, and this site will give you a free estimated range for your three FICO scores.
FICO Scores: FICO scores are provided to lenders by the major credit reporting agencies. They provide the best guide to future risk based solely on credit report data.
Small Business Banking and Credit
This resource provides information on funding, business loans, competitions and grants , and other communities that women with a focus in entrepreneurship would benefit from. This resource also has details for how bank accounts and credit can be used by entrepreneurs to deposit business funds and manage expenses. Also included is information on inexpensive credit card processors and other tools that measure profitability for small businesses. This information would be most accessible for individuals with an interest in entrepreneurship, but need guidance on how to access loans, grants, and build banking accounts for their ventures.
Financing with Loans
Payday Loans are short-term, emergency loans valued up to $500. Unlike traditional payday loans which are to be paid back two weeks after it has been lent, an alternative payday loan can be paid back over multiple months and build credit. Payday loans could ensue immense debt and APR if not paid off in the time allotted. In order to qualify for a payday loan a government ID, bank account, address, and social security number are needed. This financing option would be most accessible for individuals with some form of income (preferably two times the cost of the requested loan), work documentation verification, and residing primarily in Texas, Florida, Idaho, Washington, Ohio, Utah, and California.
Entrepreneurship among women continues to expand at a fast pace. No matter where you are in your startup journey, the resources below can help you no matter what step of the process you are on.
Eweb's Entrepreneurship Education Resources: Help for different audiences such as students, faculty, and entrepreneurs. Managed by St. Louis University.
Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation Entrepreneurship Initiatives: Many students have a true entrepreneurial spirit. The EI informs, supports, and inspires student entrepreneurs. Equally important, it recognizes and awards students for their entrepreneurial spirit and exemplary business plans.
Doing it For Themselves: Women Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur: Features success stories of women entrepreneurs and tips on owning a business.
One MillionbyOne Million Blog: Smith Alumnae and 1Mby1M Founder Sramana Mitra has created a blog where they teach how to build with revenue until a startup reaches that fundable stage.
WomenBiz.gov: Information about selling to the federal government, how to get started, finding your market, and business opportunities.
Women's Business Enterprise National Council: Information about how to get a business to become certified and the benefits associated with certification.
Business Tools for Women: Business tools and information for any woman who wants to start a business of her own.
Entrepreneurial Competitions and Funding
Draper University of Heroes: Learn about a world-class school for innovative young entrepreneurs.
VentureWell: Hosts several national business and technology competitions throughout the year.
General Online Resources
Babson College Center for Entrepreneurial Studies: An index of full-text papers and abstracts from the frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research. Most of the researchers have won awards or have been recognized for their work.
The Entrepreneurs Network: Information, contacts and counsel for inventors and entrepreneurs (pre-startup through early stage).
Entrepreneurship.org: Monthly features covering a variety of topics.
Founder Institute: For founders in NYC at the pre-seed stage who need resources, education and financing help.
Global Entrepreneurship Institute: Provides online informational support for entrepreneurs, business students and faculty interested in starting, running and growing businesses.
MIT Entrepreneurship Center: Specifically focused on technology-based entrepreneurship.
The Complete List Of Equity/Debt Free Funding Sources For Bootstrapped Founders (15+): This list contains 15+ different alternatives to finance your startup without referring to investors or lenders.
The Top Entrepreneurship Resource Online: Started by a 19 year old college student, offers tips and resources for entrepreneurs of all types.
United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship: Has information divided into the following areas: Corporate Entrepreneurship, Minority and Women, Entrepreneurship Education, Small Business, Family Business, International Entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurship in the Arts.
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office: Essential information on filing patents and trademarks, as well an archive/index of currently-held patents.
U.S. Small Business Administration: Learn how to start, grow, finance a business. Information about business opportunities and business disaster assistance is also available.
WSJ Small Business Resources: Recent articles on trends, resources, and reference materials specifically geared for the small business owner.
Pioneer Valley Community Resources
The Capital Network: A community that has been educating and connecting entrepreneurs with investors for over 20 years.
Massachusetts Small Business Development Center Network: Provides high-quality, in-depth counseling, training and capital access which contributes to the entrepreneurial growth of small businesses throughout Massachusetts. Our services are delivered through a network of skilled professional staff supported by a federal, state, and higher education consortium as well as several partnerships.
Women Innovators & Trailblazers: A community where women in Western Massachusetts created a list full of resources to help your business succeed.
Echoing Green: Documents news, trends, and the true life of social entrepreneurs.
Net Impacts: An international nonprofit organization whose mission is to make a positive impact on society by growing and strengthening a community of leaders who use business to improve the world.
Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship: The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship identifies a select community of social entrepreneurs and engages it in shaping global, regional and industry agendas that improve the state of the world.
Social Entrepreneurship and Enterprise: Provides information about what social entrepreneurship is as well as tips on how to get connected to the growing community of social entrepreneurs.
Stanford Social Innovation Review: Strategies, tools and ideas for nonprofits, foundations and socially responsible businesses.
TED Talk: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: Women entrepreneurs, example not exception
Studies show that women in general—and college-age women in particular—tend to avoid dealing with matters of personal finance. Here are some helpful resources to get you started.
WIFE: Women's Institute of Financial Education.
360 Degrees of Financial literacy: 360 Degrees of Financial literacy is a national volunteer effort of the nation's Certified Public Accountants to help Americans understand their personal finances and develop money management skills. It focuses on financial education as a lifelong endeavor - from children learning about the value of money to adults reaching a secure retirement.
Ladies Get Paid: Contains tools, resources, and community to help women negotiate for equal pay, and power in the workplace.
Investing in Your 20's: This is an educational guide catering to young people. This free resource aims to encourage those in their twenties to begin exploring smart investment opportunities. It provides insight into managing credit card debt, saving, and more.
MyMoney.gov: A website dedicated to teaching all Americans the basics about financial education, including buying homes, investing in 401(k). It also provides important information from 20 Federal agencies and Bureaus.
Personal Finance Calculators from Bankrate.com: A page full of personal finance calculators, covering everything from auto loans to retirement savings.
Practical Money Skills: Offers financial literacy lessons, resources, games and calculators.
5 Life-Changing Ted Talks about Personal Finance:Watch these five fascinating Ted Talks and learn more about credit cards and debit cards, saving, investing, and entrepreneurship.
Financial Accounting Videos
If you're thinking about hiring a professional to help you manage your money, the following resources may be useful to you. Since there are quite a few financial planning services available to people at different income levels and life stages, it's always a good idea to investigate your options before getting involved with a particular financial planner.
Financial Planning Association: Find a CFP professional near you. Helpful questions to interview a financial planner provided.
News and Commentary: Online home of Financial Planning magazine and offers news, commentary and community for financial planners and financial planning professionals.
Having student loan can be stressful. Studies have shown that student loan debt can be problematic for borrowers’ mental health. Below is a link to an article with helpful loan resources and mental health advices.
The impact of student loans on mental health
If you're renting your living space, you want to make sure you know what to expect and what is expected of you when you sign a lease or rental agreement, and you also want to know what your rights are as a renter. If you're buying a home, which is often the single most expensive purchase a person will make, there are many factors to consider - getting a mortgage, types of mortgages available, interest rates, how your credit rating affects the home buying process, to name a few.
International Cost of Living Comparison: A website that compares the comprehensive information from food to entertainment. You can make smarter choices for where to live with this help of cost of living comparison.
Loans and Mortgages: This website from FDIC provides helpful information about choosing the right mortgages and loans for your housing needs.
Mortgage-Calc.com: Contains a wide range of calculators, both for home buying, as well as for car leases, AMT Tax Calculator, Tuition Savings Calculator, and more.
Mortgage Pages from Bankrate.com's: Contains information on mortgage basics; a glossary of mortgage terms; mortgage calculators; articles on obtaining mortgages; and current interest rate information as well as analysis of the housing/mortgage markets.
Rocket Mortgage: This website goes over what credit score do you need to buy a house. It'll go over what a credit score is and how to improve it among other things.
Rentlaw.com: Provides a landlord/tenant guide and gives you the option to look up specific laws that deal with renting by state.
Credit cards and ATM/debit/bank check cards are popular targets for thieves in the real world and in the cyber-world.
Identity theft: most often accomplished when a thief obtains an individual's Social Security number and date of birth, and uses them to establish credit for him/herself - is growing at an alarming rate. It's important to safeguard your information and your finances against the damage that identity theft can cause.
Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft Site: "Your National Resource For ID Theft," and a good place to go if you believe your information has been stolen. Information on what to do right away, how to follow up, and how to fight back and prevent it from happening again. Also contains statistics and information on identity theft, what to do if your identity has been stolen, and how to avoid being victimized by identity theft.
Identity Theft and Fraud: This FDIC portal provides step-by-step information that consumers should take to protect personal computers against identity theft. Also has list of things to do if you should fall victim to an identity thief.
The United States Department of Justice: Provides full explanation regarding why individuals need to take precautions to protect against identity theft. Also has an Identity Theft Quiz
At some point in everyone's life, insurance becomes an issue. Whether it's life, health, disability, automobile or homeowners insurance, there are always questions: What kinds are available? What and how much insurance do I need? How much will it cost me? The resources below are designed to help you determine the best way to protect yourself...fnancially speaking.
7 Cheap Auto Insurance "tricks": Some of the top tricks to save you money when it comes time to renew your policy
7 Best Ways to Save Money on Car Insurance: Tips for getting the best insurance for your needs
American Automobile Association (AAA): Motor club and leisure travel organization serving North America
Auto Insurance Quotes: Suggestions about how to avoid giving out your personal information while comparing online auto insurance quotes
Car Insurance Quotes: What You Need to Know to Find a Policy: Zebra is an insurance advisor that simplifies the process of finding affordable car insurance. This resource provides information on how individuals can gain access to car insurance quotes and determine what may be the best option for their driving and income history. There is information on how to get free quotes, what is calculated in auto insurance rates, and money-saving tips when it comes to affording insurance. This resource also details how location, social-economic background, age, insurance history, and driving capability impacts the rate the individual will be expected to pay. This information would be most accessible for individuals with an insurance record, driving history (along with the specifics of your vehicle regarding purchase information), a vehicle identification number, and personal identification information.
About Disability Insurance.com: Incorporates comprehensive information about disability insurance contract so that the consumers will make a more informed decision on buying the insurance
U.S. Social Security Administration Website: Information about disability benefits can be found here
What to Look For: Straightforward information with a table of contents link
Short Term Health Insurance: This site provides useful information and comparison tools with regard to short term insurance
MedLine Plus Guide to Health Insurance: The National Institutes of Health's guide to gaining information about health insurance and choosing coverage
Questions and Answers About Insurance: A Consumer Guide: Discusses coverage options including group versus individual insurance, different types of health insurance like fee for service and HMOs. Also offers tips on choosing the health insurance provide and plan that is right for you
Insurance Information Institute: This site explains what is in a standard homeowners policy, what kind of coverage exists for co-ops and condos, what disasters are covered, and more basics. It also contains sections on how to save money when buying a policy, how to file a claim, and tips for homeowners
Renters' Insurance Information: Homeowners aren't the only ones who should think about insuring their possessions and property. Renters can purchase insurance as well. This link has information on what renters insurance is, why it's important, and how to get it
6 Myths about Buying Life Insurance: Provides information that is helpful in avoiding mistakes that could have long lasting consequences
CNN Money: Contains detailed information about life insurance including web shopping and how much coverage is necessary
Life Insurance Basics: A blog talks about distinctions of different types of life insurance and money-saving tips for buying insurances
Resources: Protect your family by understanding your options for quality life insurance
Types of life insurance: Know about the various types and choose the best one for you
Glossary of Terms: Definitions for terms related to long-term care insurance
Pros & Cons of Long Term Health Insurance: This article explains the benefits and limitations you should consider before buying long term health insurance
Whether you're still a student, a recent graduate, or have been out in the world for a long time, figuring out where your money is going and planning where you want it to go is the first step toward achieve your financial goals. The below resources are intended to help you save money on living expenses, and design budgets and saving plans that suit your needs now and for the future.
Savings Goal Calculator: Calculator to help you determine your savings goal.
How to Save Money: 17 Proven Ways: Long-term savings methods that help you save money by combining subscriptions/deals, meal preparation, etc!
35 Ways to Reduce Expenses: 35 methods that help reduce your spending and pour money back into your savings!
10 Ways to Increase Your Annual Income: Financial Expert Jaime Catmull shares how individuals could look to increase their income in many different ways that will help them reach their financial goals as the economy continues to shift.
100+ Real and Honest Ways to Make Money in College: When discussing saving and financial goals we often look at what we need to cut from our spending habits rather than what we can add to our savings plans to help us reach our goals. There's only but so much that we can cut out of our spending so what can we add? America’s Millenial Money Expert, Robert Farrington shares 100+ legitimate “money moves” specifically for college students that will help them reach their financial goals.
How Much Should I Have in My 401K? Balance by Age: An article with an in-depth look at retirement contributions, and answers the question "how much you should have saved in your 401k by age?"
99+ Stores that Give Student Discounts: This resource has a diverse list of retailers that give student discounts. This resource lists clothing stores, food and dining establishments, entertainment stores, travel and transportation companies, footwear and accessories stores, electronics stores, and online retailers.
Student Savings Plans that Work: Creating a student savings plan is an important step every student can take to manage their financial well-being. A student savings plan can help you keep track of your financial goals, analyze your spending trends, and control your own income.
Blank Savings Sheets
Filing taxes can be a confusing process, especially if you've never filed your own income tax return before. General information and links to tax forms are below, as well as information specifically for students who are filing their own returns.
Federal Tax Forms and Publications: This section of the IRS website contains links to tax forms, new changes, instructions, previous year forms and more.
Free Tax Help and information: Tax questions, answers, and info. Advice on returns, deductions, tax rebates, and credits. Tax strategies on federal IRS forms and state tax return.
IRS Tax Information for Individuals: Provides links to tools and information regarding taxes. Some links include a withholding calculator, information about late payment, tax extensions, locating refunds, and resources to help with tax filing.
Massachusetts Tax Forms and Publications: The MA Department of Revenue site contains links to current tax forms, instructions, previous year forms and more.
Recovering Excess FICA Payments: Provides information on how you can get your Social Security tax money back as a credit on your individual tax return.
IRS Withholding Calculator: Not sure how much federal tax to have taken out of your paycheck? This calculator is intended to help taxpayers decide how many withholding allowances to take in their paychecks, based on your income, pay frequency, filing status and other factors.
Paycheck Withholding Calculator: Wondering what the difference between your gross pay and your net pay will be? The personal calculators on this site will allow you to estimate what your take-home pay will be, based on your inputs
Getting the most from the Itemized Deductions: A list of often overlooked itemized deductions that you may be eligible to use the next time you file.
Wells Fargo Tax Center: A general site with a straightforward list of guides on every step on the filing process.
File Your Own Taxes: Comprehensive information on state and federal taxes, deductions and the filing process.
IRS e-file Using A Tax Professional (Internal Revenue Service): Information about filing your federal income tax return electronically using an authorized IRS e-file Provider.
Tax Guide for Students
IRS Tax Guide For Students: A comprehensive resource to assist you in understanding your obligations as a tax payer. Includes information about tax forms, filing returns, and much more.
Tax Information for International Students and Scholars: Binghamton University's Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) offers information and guidelines for preparing income tax returns international students and scholars.
Filing Tax Returns: Isenberg School of Management's International Students and Scholars Office provides detailed information about tax returns for international students and scholars.
International Student Tax Return: Provides information and guides for international students in the U.S. to prepare for tax filing.
Tax Benefits for Education: Provides information for tuition and fees deduction, and student loan interests deduction. The following link is an introduction to the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning credit. https://www.edumed.org/resources/tax-benefits-for-college-students/
Afford Anything: build a better financial life
Afro Economics: advancing Black wealth in America and abroad
Angel Investing: Opening the Door for a New Set of Angels (Morgan Stanley interviews Natalia Oberti Noguera of Pipeline Angels and Melissa Hanna of Mahmee)
Brown Ambition: personal finance and life skills (e.g., salary negotiation, home ownership, etc.)
En Factor: conversations with entrepreneurs
Good Vibes Good Life: lifestyle entrepreneur shares "empowering perspectives, spiritual wisdom, practical solutions, inspirational stories, life lessons and much more."
Journey to Launch: practical steps to financial independence
Millennial Money: This show is jam-packed with financial advice that is both understandable and compassionate for people of all generations.
On Purpose with Jay Shetty: "facsinating converations with some of the world's most insightful people."
Planet Money: money, finance, and life
Popcorn Finance: In the time it takes to make a bag of popcorn, Chris Browning deconstructs daily money issues.
The Pitch: entrepreneurs pitching ideas to real investors
Secrets of Wealthy Women: financial empowerment, women entrepreneurs/executive stories, some Smithies are featured
Women At Work: history of women at work, stories, workplace dynamics
Our students believe that entrepreneurs can tackle today’s complex problems by integrating socially responsible, universal, equitable, and environmentally sustainable design into their businesses. Theo Dean-Slobod '21 has developed our new "Values Based Design" resource for student entrepreneurs to learn about and integrate values into their aspiring ventures.
Values Based Design (VBD) is a comprehensive business-design methodology that builds on evaluation and certification systems currently employed by businesses seeking to highlight their corporate social responsibility:
- Triple Bottom Line: founder considers people and planet in addition to profit when designing new product or venture.
- B-Corp: certification that emphasizes mission-aligned governance structure and impact business model.
- Living Product Challenge: certification that focuses on environmental sustainability and net positive returns.
VBD is one of the only programs of thought that specifically addresses multiple values through a net-positive lens. There are nine core values that VBD takes into account: community impact, community return, diversity and inclusion, environment - both energy and water, equity for workers, long-term plan, materials sourcing and recollection.The United Nations (UN) has outlined a series of objectives, titled the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which act as achievable guidelines for the global community by the year 2030. For the purposes of VBD, the UN SDGs provide an example of values being implemented on a worldwide level. The SDGs cannot be achieved unless they are all implemented, making them inherently intersectional. For example, reducing poverty (SDG 1) is directly linked to climate action (SDG 13) as those that live below the global poverty line are more likely to be displaced by rising ocean levels and other impacts of climate change. Much like the UN SDGs, VBD requires intersectionality to be successful, and encourages entrepreneurs to explore the full list of SDGs as a way of determining core values.
Following are definitions for the seven values that comprise the Values Based Design model followed by an example of an exisiting business that has effectively implemented the value.
Value: Community Impact
- The business’s product/service is beneficial to the community
- The business’s existence provides new opportunities for all consumers and community members
"Restore the Earth and inspire econological stewardship."
Value: Community Return
- Programs to provide funding, volunteers and/or other resources to charities/nonprofits
Example: Veterinary Speciality Center
"We not only want VSC to be an organization that is good but an organization that does good; for our patients, clients, referring veterinarians, staff, community and the environment."
Value: Diversity & Inclusion
- Business’s mission includes creating a place for marginalized or underrepresented groups
- Business has formal programs in place to include underrepresented groups in hiring and promotions
Example: Cascade Engineering
"Cascade Engineering is an anti-racism organization. Cascade Engineering defines being an anti-racism organization as creating an environment where all employees regardless of race or the color of their skin know they are valued."
Value: Environment - Energy
- Energy comes from renewable sources
- Effort to conserve/reduce energy usage or supplement energy usage with renewable energy production
Example: Industrial Louvers, Inc.
"At ILI, sustainability is central to what we do. Our commitment to continuous improvement in sustainable operations reduces our company’s environmental impact. We take great effort to increase awareness about environmental issues within our industry and help create a more sustainable built environment."
Value: Environment - Water
- Water conservation policies implemented in production and/or in company buildings
"Our Mission: End fishing net pollution to help protect our ocean."
Value: Equity for Workers
- Fair wages for workers
- Additional benefits such as healthcare
- Educational programs are accessible (when applicable)
Example: Coffee By Design
"Our commitment to quality coffee, to building strong relationships with farmers and suppliers, and to giving back to the local and international communities to which Coffee By Design is intimately connected, is reflected daily in the way Coffee By Design does business."
Value: Materials Sourcing
- Materials used are recyclable/sustainable when possible
- Materials vendors are researched
- Material usage is minimized
"Our approach to product development and manufacturing embodies our mission to minimize our impacts...We use fewer parts and recyclable materials such as aluminum and steel in our products to limit their potential impact."
Value: Materials Recollection
- Programs are in place to recollect materials after products end of life
- Materials are recycled or disposed of responsibly
Example: Mohawk Flooring
"Our approach to sustainability covers every point of a product's life cycle, from raw materials, manufacturing, and distribution to installation methods and end-of-life recycling."
Value: Long Term Plan
- The business has an attitude of continuous improvement
- The business has clearly enumerated goals involving a widening range of values.
One way to quickly and effectively begin addressing values is by using Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle:
The difference between Simon Sinek’s approach and the VBD model is that the Golden Circle is focused on scalability and expansion of a company, instead of on doing the most good for the world, yet, the premise is the same. Before jotting down a draft for a business plan, begin by figuring out “why.” Your “why” should include a specific set of values that will help to further develop your goals and business plan. Instead of creating a singular statement of purpose like Simon Sinek demonstrates, you should be able to construct a brief mission statement for each of your defined values. This will make your proposed business plan more accessible to numerous stakeholders and will accelerate your ability to respond to consumer needs.
Smith students Chichi Wu ’22 and Adriana Beltran Andrade ’23 have observed the changing world around us and note that emerging technologies are poised to rewrite the story of all industries. They are committed to broadening the Smith community's knowledge about emerging technologies, specifically blockchain and digital assets, to ensure women have a seat at the table.
A Beginner's Guide: She256's guide to decentralized technologies
A Complete Beginner's Guide to Blockchain: Forbes' guide to decentralized technologies
Blockchain for Dummies: IBM's guide to decentralized technologies
Ethical OS: A Toolkit that anticipates the future impact of today's technology
Resources from a16z for Understanding Crypto: a16z's guide to blockchain
What is Blockchain? Lisk.io's guide to blockchain