I have been running my own businesses for 20 years now. Full-time since 2001… and you may not believe it, but now that I’m working on a social justice focused not-for-profit… I’m finally reading some nuts-and-bolts business books and listening to small business podcasts.
Ummm, a bit late, Steve, you might be thinking…
One of my favorite small business podcasts is “What Works” … and I’ve noticed an interesting theme running through their interviews.
There are a surprising number of business owners who want to “give back” through their companies. They’ve got a social justice element built into their for-profit business from day one.
This is kind of cool. Businesses don’t have to be just about making money. There are lots of ways to make a difference. You don’t just have to be a not-for-profit, you can make political or social change a part of your business or your life.
I’m your host, Steven Davis and welcome to episode 8 of Disability Democracy. This weekly podcast is about practical actions that YOU can take – to make a difference in your community. The goal of Disability Democracy is to accelerate the disability community revolution. Find out more at disabilitydemocracy.org.
Why shouldn’t businesses make a difference? There is nothing wrong with “doing well by doing good”… and being structured as a not-for-profit doesn’t mean that you aren’t first and foremost a business.
And adding a distinct social justice element to a standard business is just a way of both living and working your values. This isn’t new. Some lawyers have been doing Pro Bono legal work for who knows how long and companies like Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream have been contributing to causes and making political statements through flavors and other things for years.
Why not you? Why not me?
Anyhow another thing I kept hearing about was this book called “Profit First” by Mike Michalowicz.
I finally read it in July.
I understood immediately why everyone talked about it.
At its core, it has an amazingly simple idea.
Create a separate “profit” bank account for your business from day one.
Because it takes profit out of a spreadsheet and makes it a separate bank account.
Put a bit of money in your profit account from the beginning (maybe one percent of income or $10 a week or whatever you can start with)… and your business is always going to be profitable.
Sort of magical.
Just like those savings strategies where you put money into your retirement account automatically before you can see it or spend it… you start with the profit.
Now there is a lot more to the book than just set up a “profit” bank acount.
but, in some sense, “Profit First” is about being clear and simple.
It really stuck in my head.
At first, it gave me an idea for not-for-profits… “Profit First, for Not-For-Profits” as it were.
But t made me think about the commitments we make to social and political change… being a good member of our communities… promising ourselves to volunteer or donate… but also knowing how those good intentions get drowned into the day-to-day realities of our day-to-day lives.
Why not build a habit of helping?
Make helping automatic?
Another new bank account which you put a bit of money into every week – either for yourself or your business.
Maybe call it a “Share If First” account?
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This is a new idea, at least to me, I’m still thinking it through… maybe it is a bit crazy.
>>> OK, technically it is really OLD – many people used to tithe a percent of their salary to their church and some still do…
But… why not?
A big part of the power of “Profit First” is its transparency. You literally see where your money is going – for profit, taxes, everything.
Open your online bank account, and you know exactly where you are at….
Why not do the same for causes you care about?
I think you can use your “Share It First” account in three ways..
First, easy, use it to fund your donations.
Second, if you donate purchased goods or paid services, you fund it from your “Share It First” account.
Third, if you volunteer, you use your “Share it First” account to “pay” your hours. Pay yourself a fair rate for your work, then move your money where you wish. Income. Fun fund. You did the good work, you deserve the pay.
Just like Profit. It is right there for you to see.
Maybe you start with $10 a week or 1 percent of your paycheck or income. Whatever you can afford.
You make it intentional.
As money comes in, it gets moved to the right accounts. Expenses. Profit First. Share it First.
Just like your Profit account, as you do better, you grow your “Share it First” account.. Increase the amount or percentage
Just like Profit – you see what you’ve done.
It is right there.
Your Share It First account makes your community contribution intentional. Measurable. Growing.
Your day-to-day work gets reflected in your values.
Now, I haven’t yet set up my bank accounts as Profit First recommends (this has been a crazy summer).
But when I do, I’m going to set up some separate accounts for my household and business… a profit account… and a “share first account”.
What about you?
How do you build your values into your work? Your life? Your time? Your budget?
Let me know at Shareitfirst.org… or email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This episode of Disability Democracy Radio was sponsored by Not Without Us. Not Without Us is a 501c4 mutual benefit corporation. Our goal is equality for all disabled adults and kids with disabilities. You can learn more about our work at notwithoutus.org. Our strategy is built on democratic action – through this podcast and our community at disabilitydemocracy.org, providing organizing support at diydarkmoney.com, training candidates for local office at GetElected.US, endorsing candidates, or directly working on issues.
We’d like to thank Ian McCullough, Debbie Dodge, for their contributions to Not Without Us. You can support Not Without Us with an annual, monthly or one-time donation at notwithoutus.org/join. If you have any questions or comments on this episode, visit disabilitydeomcracy.org – you can email us, leave a comment, or even a voice message. I’m Steven Davis and on behalf of Not Without Us, we think that democracy comes not from a vote every two years, but from the actions we can take every day.