As the founder of a company committed to creating a more ethical online economy, I often think about how to ensure our handmade platform’s integrity long-term. This includes thinking through our business structure to guarantee we never lose sight of our mission to create a more caring economy.
I’m often faced with skepticism from people learning about goimagine’s mission because it seems “too good to be true” to them. It baffles people that a company could genuinely be trying to do something good in the world. They are always looking for the “gotcha” or hidden agenda by those who own the company.
One example is that goimagine is committed to donating 100% of our company profits to helping children in need. It’s a model that has been proven by companies like Newman’s Own. Unfortunately, it still leads people to jump to conclusions like, “So, the company owner will take a massive salary and donate pennies to charity? What a scam!”
It makes me sad that people make this assumption, but I completely understand why they do. Our world is filled with scammers trying to take advantage of the goodwill of people, which has put our society on high alert. So when something good is happening, the natural reaction has become “What’s the angle?” instead of “How can I help support that?”
It’s true that one of the biggest travesties in America right now is exorbitant CEO pay. As profits for big companies skyrocket, executives continue to get paid more with an incentive to pay their employees less. That is because the success of a CEO is gauged by their company’s profits and not their employees’ well-being. Sometimes CEO’s even get raises while their employees are getting laid off. In the marketplace economy, it can be even worse for vendors since they aren’t even employees with a voice in the company.
One sad fact is that in 1965 CEOs were paid very well at 20 times what the average worker earned, but by 2021 CEO pay skyrocketed to over 399 times the average employee salary. Is that because CEOs are working harder now? Are they more valuable now? What has changed from 1965 to today?
As for me, it’s been three years since we launched goimagine, and I have yet to be paid, which I’m okay with. It’s not unheard of for an entrepreneur to not get paid while building their startup. I believe our mission is truly bigger than any individual, so I will continue to do everything I can to ensure its success. That said, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that when I read internet trolls questioning my motives or making wrong assumptions, it doesn’t sting.
I, of course, hope to get paid eventually (I have 4 kids!), but ensuring goimagine grows ethically is of utmost importance. So, I assure our maker community we will put a 20x cap in our company bylaws for executive pay. So whether it’s me or someone else at the helm in the future, the CEO pay for goimagine will never exceed the more balanced 1965 level.
Does that mean goimagine will ever pay that much to an executive? Probably not. Even 20x the average worker seems too high to me, and when I begin making any salary from goimagine I will be thrilled. The important part is that there is an ethical pay ceiling for executives. Additionally, our board of directors (including representatives from our maker community) will determine that pay with complete transparency.
Furthermore, I believe the strategy of tying executive pay to their employees’ pay is a winning one. This aligns the executives’ goals with their employees’ well-being. This means the CEO is incentivized to pay their employees more so that they can get paid more. This is a stark contrast to the current system, where CEOs are incentivized to pay their employees less so they can get paid more. The system is backward.
The only way the CEO should succeed is if everyone in the company succeeds with them. That’s the way it should be.
— Jon Lincoln, Founder, goimagine.com
Jon Lincoln is the founder of goimagine, the handmade marketplace that’s donating 100% profits to help children in need. This new marketplace concept is following in the footsteps of other great companies such as Newman’s Own and Patagonia by building philanthropy into the fabric of the business. Since launching in 2020 goimagine has attracted thousands of makers & artists throughout the United States supporting their mission to create a more caring economy through handmade.