The purpose of “purpose”


Does the world really need yet-another blog on business and entrepreneurship?  Don’t Fred Wilson, Brad Feld, Mark Suster, and others do a good enough job on their blog?  Those are wonderful sources of advice for entrepreneurs, but what is missing from that whole circle of thought is purpose.

What is missing from most every business, and the whole of business media is purpose.

That is, a purpose beyond the bottom line, beyond the valuation, beyond the “exit”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with profits.  Businesses need profits in order to survive.  But after a century of growth with the sole goal of growing profits has resulted in a world filled with problems.  Big problems.  Planet-scale problems.

Two billion people live on $2/day, with little food, no clean water, no electricity, little healthcare, mostly in slums, with no means of subsistence farming to survive.

Two billion of us live in comfort, with too much food, but living a lifestyle that exceeds the resources of the planet.  We’ve passed “peak oil” and it’s equivalent in fresh water, copper, phosphorous, and lithium.  If we care about our children’s grandchildren, we’re running low of everything that isn’t easily recycled.

All this said, I do not live in despair, but rather am optimistic about the future.  I have hope because I believe that for the first time in history, we have a path to successfully tackle these problems.

For the last century, poverty, hunger, social justice, and sustainability have been left to the governments and charities of the world to solve.  The UN, WHO, USAID.  The former wealth of the wealthy capitalists, the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The new path is to take on these issues via business.  To embed a purpose in business that improves the lives of the bottom billions, to improve the sustainability of all people, to better share our limited resources, or to help each other help each other, all while earning a profit.

This path has a variety of names.   Social enterprise.  Impactful business.  The fourth sector.  I personally call these “conscious” companies, and this is where I spend my time, helping the conscious entrepreneurs succeed.  I do this via Fledge, the “conscious company” accelerator, and Kick, the “inclusive” incubator.  I do this as Entrepreneur in Residence, teaching MBAs at the first conscious business school, the Bainbridge Graduate Institute.  I do this as author of The Next Step series of books on starting startups.  And starting today, I do this by proving yet-another blog on entrepreneurship, but one that talks about starting and running businesses with purpose.

Please join me in this movement.  Follow this blog.  Help these entrepreneurs.  Or better yet, be one of these entrepreneurs, and discover the joys of doing good, while doing good business… on purpose.

By "Luni"


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