• Social impact and sustainability

Are you a Philanthrepreneur? Why Should you Care?

Futurpreneur | July 24, 2014

Warren Coughlin, Business Coach, Toronto, ON, warrencoughlin.com

Years ago, I coined the term “philanthrepreneur.”  It has a very specific meaning, which I’ll share in a moment.

First, let me set a bit of context.  I’m sure you’ve heard of the term “social entrepreneurs.”  At one point, it was of fairly narrow application.  It was used to describe people who used entrepreneurial skills and techniques to advance social causes.  It has now become a much wider term to describe anyone who mixes entrepreneurship with a social change objective, whether they are for profit or not-for-profit.  It is a spectacular movement that is having profound impacts.

A philanthrepreneur is a bit distinct from this large, sweeping category.  I define a philanthrepreneur as one who unashamedly wishes to make a lot of money while making the world a better place.

The way in which she or he improves the world may be something as grand as providing clean drinking water to isolated communities to something as simple, yet powerful, as providing a truly great environment for workers to grow and learn.

The clear profit motive helps drive growth and multiply those impacts.  As I’ve written elsewhere, this requires the ability to engage in “and” thinking, rather than “or” thinking.  In other words, you know that you can simultaneously pursue profit and do-good rather than be focused on profit OR doing-good.

The role of the philanthrepreneur is a critical one today.  I’ve always believed that entrepreneurship is one of the most powerful forces for positive social change but what’s missing for a lot of people drawn to this life is a clear understanding of the tools.

Here are the 3 buckets of tools that you’ll need to enjoy this highly rewarding path.

1)     Your Purpose: There are two approaches for this, having a task focus or an outcome focus.  People who focus on the task tend to get discouraged and tired, every bump in the road is another obstacle to justify giving up.  People who focus on the outcome see the obstacles as minor bumps in the road that they will navigate on the way to their destination.

When you have a purpose, you’re more likely to have an outcome focus.  Having a clear purpose also helps you filter opportunities.  There are thousands of ways to make the world a better place and to make money.

2)     Your Values:  Your purpose will help you identify what you might do.  Your values will tell you how you will do it.

In my dozen years as a business coach and many more as an entrepreneur myself, I’ve seen repeatedly that one of the greatest sources of unhappiness or stress is when business owners are out of alignment with their own purpose or values.

When you’re clear on your values, and when you run your business congruently with those values, you’re more energized and optimistic. If you have not done the work to get clear on your values, I strongly encourage you to invest the time and energy to get the benefits of this kind of clarity.

3)     Your Business Skills: I find that people go into business for generally one of three reasons: They either have a deeply felt personal passion they wish to pursue, they have a strong skill that they want to deploy in their own venture, or they were forced into it by circumstances.

There is nothing wrong with any of these reasons, but generally none of these routes to entrepreneurship require deep or prolonged study into the skills of business.  This means that many business owners lack foundational tools that will enable them to accelerate the growth of their enterprises.

In my experience, over 90% of small business owners don’t know how to properly understand and use their financial statements which are critical to planning and driving growth.  If you truly want to profit and create impact, you must learn the skills you need.

Each of these points is so vital to the philanthrepreneur.  There are some people who speak as if all you need is a purpose and values and somehow magically the universe will open up for you, when the reality is that success follows patterns.  Developing and deploying business skills, in a manner consistent with your values and your purpose, will allow you to grow in a more controlled and sustainable way, allowing you to have an even greater impact.