As a business owner, should saving the world be a focus?
I’ve heard the phrase “saving the world” several times lately. Mostly I have heard it in the context of “I’m not trying to save the world,” as if doing your part to save the world is inappropriate. Let me clarify. These were business professionals, so the phrase "I’m not saving the world” was used within their role as a business professional. But upon hearing this, it made me reflect on whether or not I’m saving the world through my role as a business leader.
For me, there’s no other option besides being genuine and true
To be anything besides myself is difficult. In fact, I have to refrain from being too much of myself in some cases. That's the downside of a strong personality. There’s no difference when it comes to who I am in my personal life versus my role as a founder. In fact, I feel more obligated to be myself as the owner of an organization that I am directing. I almost feel as if I’d be doing a disservice to hold back. For my organization to get only parts of me seems disingenuous. After all, I am a heart-led leader and my best vision and leadership stem from my passion. To refrain from one of my greatest strengths would disappoint those whom I lead.
If I’m being honest
I must be honest to myself and to those around me and let it be known that I am purpose driven. Sure I own a business, and that business is a service-based franchise company, but my true “why” is that I am here to do my part as a good steward with the power, resources, and influence that I am given. More than anything, I genuinely care about the people I steward. This stewardship includes my family, my organization, and the community in which my organization operates. With that said, is “saving the world” a part of that equation? In my opinion, the answer is “yes.” Saving the world is my social responsibility with the power, resources, and influence given to me through my business.
Being a good steward with what I am given, where I am given it
To take and to give are the two essential parts of an evolving pendulum. As a business owner, I am naturally given the status to take and to be served—by employees, customers, and the community. After all, business is about generating (or taking) revenues and profits. However, to take means that something must be given in return. For employees, this means they are given a paycheck. For customers, this means they are provided with a service or a product. And for the community, this means we contribute to the economy.
We are discussing two sides of the pendulum—giving and taking. As a business leader, I must ask myself if I am okay with the give and take pendulum leveling out or leaning one way or the other. After all, there is the choice to take a little more and therefore have the pendulum lean toward the company's best interests. To do so would be in the shareholders' best interest, right? On the other hand, I could give more than I take. To that end, it would be known as goodwill. In all cases, it’s a choice, and a free choice at that.
If a company can take more than it gives and it is viewed as good in the eyes of shareholders, why can’t a company give more than it takes? From the outside, it seems like this would be the easy decision—to give more than to take. However, within the business world it is contrary to what one would think. It makes sense though, because profits are like oxygen for the survival of a business, so in theory it would be difficult to part with an ideology that maximized that lifeblood.
Although it may seem like Russian roulette, I’m not proposing suicide. I’m simply suggesting generosity in the form of good will. The struggle is an ideology of scarcity versus abundance. The business world is too worried about the bottom line. It’s a “me” mentality. The reality is that “we” is greater than “me.” Surprisingly, there is a far greater return on giving a portion of a surplus as opposed to the alternative.
Faith trumps greed
To put your faith in something that is unseen is a great power. It is a demonstration of faith and your relationship with what is unseen. What do I mean by this? By giving generously in a position of stewardship, there is a return on that action. However, it is not quantifiable and therefore it can’t be reported on the balance sheet, per se. The true power in this ideology is a liberation—a liberation from greed and the need to extract everything that you can take. Whether it is accepted or not, that generosity makes its way back around. That deposit of generosity is an investment in the future as opposed to an immediate boost of gratification.
The return on giving as a good steward is a simple demonstration of social responsibility in the form of being a good example. Businesses are some of the most influential entities in the world. Businesses shape and influence the world more so than any other entity. They influence the evolution of humanity, innovation, cures, and culture. With such power, resources, and influence comes great responsibility. Being aware of the platform that businesses provide should make professionals all the more aware of their impact on the world around them. The choice is free to either take or give. Whether intentional or not, the actions of a business do change the world that that business operates within.
Have you ever thought of a business as a world power? Have you ever thought of the power, resources, and influence that a business has within the world in which it operates?