Last week, a business student of mine said: “Obviously, profit is everything in business”
Except it isn’t.
Profit is essential, that much is true. Yet, profit doesn’t need to be the reason why. We will surely fail without a steady cash flow, but how we earn that cash is up to us. We have the ability to choose our own business priorities and we can certainly choose cold, hard cash.
Or we could choose to do a little good. Maybe our small business can’t change the world, but we can make our small portion a better place.
It’s Great for Public Relations
The idea that we won’t gain some great PR is ludicrous. Of course, we will get some good press! It’s silly to deny that fact.
Yet, companies can’t fool the public for long. They can generally spot a fake from a mile away. Don’t bother if you’re only doing it for publicity. Good PR is simply a good benefit from focusing on social causes.
Leonisa, who sells various undergarments including bras, is a strong supporter of breast cancer awareness education. It’s an obvious social cause for a bra company and directly helps their target market. The company also promotes how they treat their employees, including giving them free meals each day and housing loans. Sure, the company gets great press from these endeavors, but it also showcases that businesses don’t have to be heartless corporations to be successful.
Social Media Loves Feel-Good Stories
Sevenly is a t-shirt company that supports different causes each week and gives a percentage of each sale to a non-profit. So you may think that a socially focused business, with a clear message of giving to important charities, would have Facebook posts that were always shared.
Yet, that’s not the case at all. Here’re two examples of Sevenly’s Facebook posts. The first is a picture from their Olympic Spirit Collection that supports the Special Olympics. It was only shared one time.
This one is a video from a military widow sharing her story about her husband’s suicide (supporting World Suicide Prevention Day). This video was shared 87 times.
Sharing products, even ones supporting a social cause, do not receive the same social engagement as actual stories. That’s the bottom line on social media. Few will share your killer sales page. But many will share your content that brings awareness or highlights a heartfelt story. That’s simply the nature of social media.
It Makes Us Feel Good
Maybe there’s no better reason to combine passion and profit other than it makes us feel good. It makes getting up and going to work easier. It gives us motivation and helps us keep going through tough days.
Choosing to focus on something other than profits helps you to see the bigger picture and connect with the world on a different level. It helps keep things in perspective and gives us purpose.
Never underestimate the power of doing something good.
You Don’t Have to Choose Passion or Profit
While there are many reasons to choose to incorporate your passion for a social cause into your business, the biggest reason is that it’s completely doable.
TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, said the following when asked why he chose social entrepreneurship as opposed to a nonprofit:
I love using business as a way to solve problems. I think that there's a lot of important need for charity and nonprofit work in the world, but I felt like if I could use business — something I was really good at — to solve problems like kids needing shoes or people needing eye care surgeries or prescription glasses, that was a better match.
You don’t need to follow the buy one, give one model like TOMS. There’re a million ways to add a social aspect to your business. Start small or jump in feet first. Support one charity or change every month. Focus on animals, the environment, poverty, human trafficking, or local charities. Just choose whatever you're most passionate about and then find a way for your business to get involved.
Because it’s simply a business myth that profit is everything.