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Socially Strategic Enterprise: Doing Well While You Do Good

June 26, 2009

willworkformeaningDid you ever see the Academy Award-winning movie “A Beautiful Mind?”  It was based on real-life Nobel Laureate, John Nash — a mathematician and economist who proved that collaboration rather than competition creates the greatest benefit for each individual AND for all.  He proved greatest abundance is possible when we include everyone in our thinking.

Now, more than ever, this is extremely important to understand. The recent confluence of crises (e.g. environmental, financial, educational, healthcare, etc.) are highly indicative that the only way through is going to require us to work together.  No longer can we be concerned only with our own small piece of the world (and for purposes of this blog post, that means our own businesses).  We need to work together, and we need to work together now.

Those who are even slightly familiar with me and my consulting practice, know that I am all about promoting the social good.  I mean, hey – it’s the name of my company.  How could you miss that, right?

But what you might not know, is that I have a very strong conviction in the power of business and commerce to be a force for positive change in our world.  It is my belief (and I’m not alone in this) that capitalism in and of itself, is a neutral energy.  It is neither good nor bad.  It is actually the values and energies of those who use capitalism and its structures that determine the outcomes.

So what does this mean for you?  Have you thought about your own business in terms of how it affects your community, your employees, and the planet?  Just because you offer a mainstream product or service, doesn’t mean you can’t make your business the highest positive expression of your values and beliefs. You truly don’t have to sell something specifically green or socially conscious in order to make a difference.  You just need to think in terms of where your business is right now and ask:  Is this the best we can do?

Social Enterprise and social entrepreneurship are fast becoming the new model of business.  If you haven’t yet heard these terms, don’t worry — it’s never too late to explore a good idea.

A social enterprise is one that takes the best practices from the for-profit sector and the best intentions from the nonprofit sector and marries them into a commerce-driven force for good.  If that sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, read on.

There are many ways to take an existing business or nonprofit to the level of social enterprise.  Here are just a few:

  • Figure out what you stand for. If you don’t know what your passion(s) are, you can’t bring them into your work or business.  So first, understand who you are at a basic core level.  Why are you on this earth anyway?  What is your purpose in life?  What legacy do you want to leave for the rest of us?
  • Align your personal values and vision with what you sell or offer the world. You can not be two different people (one kind at home, and another kind at work) for very long without becoming ineffective, stressed out, and just plain fed up.  For example, if you are passionate about the environment, make sure that what you’re selling doesn’t negatively impact the environment.  And if you don’t know, find out.  Examine everything.
  • Communicate your values and vision to those around you. Your employees, customers, vendors and community need to know who you are too.  When you express your unique perspective, you make it easier for people to connect with you on a deeper level.  They understand why they want to stick around and help you (employees) or buy your stuff (customers) or support your efforts (community).
  • Understand your value to the world and charge accordingly. People will always buy what they value.  And if you are providing a valuable service or product that helps promote your vision of how the world could be, you can’t help but create positive change and do well financially.
  • Collaborate with like-minded organizations to solve a community problem. Once you know what you stand for and what matters most, it will be easier for you to find those who feel the same way and who are looking to work with a business like yours to solve the same issues.  Collaboration is powerful leverage that can be used to help all parties involved realize a vision quicker, easier and more economically.

Being “Socially Strategic” means your business focuses on more than just Profit.  It means you also promote the well-being of People and the Planet.   This triple bottom line is the new wave of business practice and is something that gives me great hope for our collective future.

Do you have additional advice on the topic?  Please share it with all of us!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 26, 2009 7:07 pm

    Great info, Tea. Connecting with passion and purpose are so powerful. We all need to make a difference and become conscious entrepreneurs and biz people. Have a terrific weekend.

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