Saturday, February 19, 2011

On the motivations of entrepreneurs

Stepping Out, my new business, has had a good first six month. We have won business, delivered it to high satisfaction and, yes, made a bit of money. Not that much money, but enough to keep body and soul together.

Although I have run social businesses before, I haven't run a standard company but what strikes me is that for all the talk about profit as the differentiator, how little profit enters the head of for-profit entrepreneurs on a daily basis and also how damn difficult it is to make a profit in any business.

Profit net of all costs and taxes is actually a fairly pootling portion of the total amount a company has to turn over in order to survive. That these amounts are the cause of such debate among the for-profit/ not for profit sectors feels, to me, to miss something.

The reality is that business, in whatever sector, is primarily about doing things extremely well. I find that private entrepreneurs are not,on the whole, driven by money. This is a bit of a myth. They are normally passionate about an idea, they love owning and running their own business. Often they forgo profit to help customers.

I am, these days, less convinced than I was about the real differences between social business people and private operators. At least the good ones.

Off to Brighton for a week now. Swopping our house for a week - a great way to have cheap holidays - and protect your house while you're away. Looking forward to some good running and time with my children. And perhaps some discreet blogging if I am allowed.


Patrick Nash said...

Great Craig, I could not agree more.

My business is for profit but is definitely a social business. We work for charities and their service users, struggle to 'make a profit' and are delighted that we are really making a difference by creating sustainable jobs and growth opportunities in the Welsh Valleys.

After 15 years as a charity CEO, I feel I am making far more of a difference to people - our customers' clients (mostly people in debt, with mental health problems, looking for jobs, etc.), our customers (who are charities)and the local community.

Now what could be more 'social' than that?

Matt Stevenson-Dodd said...

Great blog Craig, but what I don't understand is if profit is not the differentiator then what are the differences from owning the social business as opposed to not owning it?