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The Social Purpose Business

The Social Purpose Business

This is an evolving field, and there's a sloppy tendency to label any good thing as "Social Entrepreneurship." When we talk about it, we focus specifically on sustainable "Social Purpose Businesses".This is such a powerful model, because it starts with a social purpose. And it also generates a sustainable profit. Social mission is at the center of everything they do, rather than being an afterthought.

"It's not just saying, "Hey, we have a social mission s an organization, and X percent of our sales go to nonprofit X,Y, and Z.' I think it needs to be deeper and more authentic than that." -Stephan Jacob, co-founder of Cotopaxi

Your Profit Serves Your Purpose

Social enterprises are designed to make money. They are also designed to make a difference. They're living proof that you can be successful as a business owner and do good at the same time. And the more successful you are, the more good you can do. In the words of Walt Disney, "I don't make art to make money; I make money so I can make more art."

Social entrepreneurs adopt a business model that puts their mission at the heart of their enterprise. They are held accountable to their buyers and beneficiaries, based on the impact they promised to make.

Your Competitive Advantage

Doing good isn't only the right thing to do, it gives you a competitive advantage.

In a CSR survey by Cone Communications, 87% of consumers said they would purchase a product because a company supports an issue they care about.

This reflects a shift in consumer awareness about the impact of their buying decisions. Not only are businesses held to a higher standard, but customers are holding themselves to a higher standard also.

While a portion of their profits are diverted to the impact the enterprise wants to make, they do enjoy several benefits that provide a competitive advantage:

  • Mission-Based Branding: A company story with a cause at its core makes consumers feel good about every purchase they make from you.

  • Powerful Partnerships: A social enterprise, because of its mission-based motivations, can partner with other non-profit organizations and for-profit companies to leverage existing audiences and established reputations to give you a presence in their market.

  • Media Coverage: Publications and blogs love to cover social innovation and change makers and their impact, helping social enterprises evangelize their mission and share their impact.

  • Certifications and Support: Social enterprises can be eligible for grants, 'impact investing' that focus on job creation and sustainability, and special certifications, such as B-Corp, that make it easier to establish credibility, commit to transparency, and attract customers, employees, volunteers, and investors.

Your Life and Legacy

When you create a Social Purpose Business, you are working for something so much bigger than yourself. Not only do you get personal satisfaction from using your gifts to create products and services for your customers, but you can use your business to make a difference for the causes and communities you care about.

Self-centered success will only take you so far - and then the shiny cars get old, and you stop being happy. But service-centered success leads to a life of significance, because you are sewing into the lives of others, and leaving the world better than you found it. And that's what we all really want at the end of the day.


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