Some capitalists seem to be very threatened by the idea of social entrepreneurship either because it has the word social in it (too close to socialism for comfort), or because they think they’ve always been socially responsible and this new phrase does not recognize that. It’s not new and it’s not socialism, but it is different than what many capitalists practice.
Where I sit – I’m a capitalist who believes that social entrepreneurship (it’s not a great use of the word entrepreneur, but I’ll go with it) is the surest route to making more money. If we focus on the needs of others first, we will, over time, do better than those who put their own interests ahead of others. Greed does work in the short run, but it is never sustainable in the long run. I believe a majority of capitalists would agree.
Where I stand – Every dollar earned by anyone in a legal way does some social good by creating a ripple effect behind it from the spending it also creates throughout the economy. This is a real, tangible social benefit that is at the root of my fellow capitalist’s argument that they don’t need someone to tell them they need to become a social entrepreneur. The term irritates them because it implies the economic impact of their business doesn’t already create massive social good. And it absolutely does.
But the difference between the social effect of traditional capitalism and the social effect of social entrepreneurship is the difference between passive and active.
As a capitalist, I understand very well that I don’t have to do a thing beyond sell something, hire someone, make a profit and begin spending to create a significant wake of passive social good with my business. But how much more powerful could my impact be if I was actively and intentionally using my business to do good beyond the passive revenue effect?
The fact is that a large minority of business owners has always been intentional about both making money and making an impact in the world around them. A good segment of businesses have always been actively involved in non-profits, building businesses in disadvantaged neighborhoods, hiring people others wouldn’t, giving better benefits to their employees and looking for ways to use their businesses to do intentional acts of sustainable kindness.
But these are not the capitalists I know who have problems with the term “social entrepreneurship”. It’s largely those who are passively social via revenue production who have trouble with it.
I think the term has real positive value in recognizing those business owners who go beyond the clear and undeniable passive social benefits of just creating a healthy business. Those companies that are much more intentional and active in creating significance in the world around them should be recognized for going the extra mile. It might be clearer to call all business owners social entrepreneurs and just put the word passive or active in front of each as it fits, but that would introduce even more political correctness to an already overly corrected world.
All businesses are socially beneficial. I believe those that are socially intentional and active beyond the generation of revenue are much more likely to make a bigger impact and also more money. Even if a capitalist doesn’t have altruistic motivations, they should practice social entrepreneurship just so they can make more money. We’ll all be better off.
You either live in a world of abundance or a world of scarcity. Whichever one you choose affects every decision you make.
Live well by doing good.
Every capitalist business owner would make more money if they did.