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“It’s not personal, it’s business!” We’ve all heard the old adage touted by business professionals as a cover-all for any manner of behavior. Or worse, for the extremists, “Business is WAR.” Is it though? Does it need to be?
Cole Hatter, founder of Thrive: Making Money Matter an event geared towards teaching entrepreneurs to dominate in business and use their influence to generate a positive impact, operates by a different moral principle—make money, but make it matter! In this week’s episode he discusses what it means to run a for-purpose business, or a business that gives back without sacrificing profit, and oftentimes increases profit by giving back.
Embarking on an entrepreneurial journey is risky, and often downright terrifying. It requires relinquishing financial security for the chance of financial freedom, which if you’ve never done before, feels something akin to walking of a cliff for the chance to learn to fly. But as they say, “with great risk, comes great reward”—the question is, what are you sacrificing to gain that reward?
Too often, business professionals believe that to get ahead, you have to step on those running alongside you. It’s easy to get caught in the lie that there’s not enough pie to go around so grab and dash while you can. Hatter defies that mentality. He believes that not only is there enough pie, but the way to get more, is to give it away.
You might be thinking, ‘in order to give something away…you have to have something in the first place!’ But generosity can take many forms! Financial generosity can take time to build to, however one can always be generous with time and knowledge. Oftentimes that is far more helpful than just handing over cash.
As an entrepreneur you have to be ready to fail, and fail again, and again, until eventually you fail upwards. Hatter stated, “I’ve probably started 30 businesses. 24 to 25 of them have failed. Several of them have failed miserably and cost me money, but the four or five that I’ve gotten correct, have more than compensated me and have made it all worth it.”
Business failures, coupled with the crippling recession forced Hatter to make difficult decisions. He decided to move to Mexico; leave the business world for a life of humanitarian pursuit. He lived off his savings, building houses, helping victims of human trafficking, and even started an orphanage. This complete disruption of his previous life led to a paradigm shift. He thought, “if I had more money than the little I saved, I could help even more people in a larger capacity.” So he went back to the States with a mission to start businesses that didn’t just function to make money, but to give back.
He’s not recommending complete servitude, or shifting to a wholly minimalist lifestyle. In fact, he expressly states that he sees non-profits as inherently flawed with broken economic models—if no one donates, they cease to exist. Rather he believes you should make money, make lots of money, be profitable in order to make a bigger impact.
Too long companies have operated like Scrooge McDuck, hoarding their gold and swimming in piles of money. They follow the words of comic strip writer Brant Parker, “We all must live by the Golden Rule—he who has the gold makes the rules.” Maybe he or she who has the gold should make it a rule to give it away. Maybe that’s how we solve the world’s problems, by being generous and making business matter.
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