Monday, January 21, 2008

Business Leaders & Success (Tassajo)

Can companies make money while doing good. --- Socially responsible companies

At first glance, socially responsible companies are hard to come by. Their goals range widely, entailing anything, from curbing pollution to educating students about substance abuse. Or a company might hire employees from disadvantaged neighborhoods or offer a great package of benefits. That variable nature can make it difficult to distinguish them from the many companies that boast about their environmental efforts or philanthropy when their main lines of business are not socially responsible, or worse.

A closer look, however, reveals that these companies' social and environmental goals aren't add-ons or marketing ploys. Of course, detractors insist that the very notion of building a business around a social agenda is misguided. They argue that companies can do more good by being as profitable as possible and assisting social causes through philanthropy or volunteerism.

But most social entrepreneurs believe that a corporate structure is the most efficient agent. As profit-seeking businesses, they are spared the need to chase a limited supply of grant money. They also have more tools to motivate employees and lure top-notch talent. True, it is difficult to manage and grow a business that is accountable to multiple constituencies. But, you can succeed, if you proceed with care.

To create a business with a social mission you have to have a product or service that people will want and an effective way to sell it. In some cases, the impetus to start a company may come well after you've committed to a social agenda.

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