“Is it true that you’ve sold your soul?” I say, “Hey man, I don’t know. Lend me a quarter, won’t you? I’ll call my accountant.” Cracker, Kerosene Hat (1993)
It turns out, 90s alternative rock can teach us a lot about the way the world works.
Politicians, bureaucrats, and bleeding hearts get all the credit. Somewhere along the line it became fashionable to assign the blame for everything wrong on the planet squarely at the feet of businesses. The former? They can do no wrong simply because they eschew profit.
Alternatively, entrepreneurs find ways to change the world that turn heads while turning profits. But are making money and doing right by the world two mutually exclusive pursuits?
Not by a long shot. The truth is, this world has plenty of problems awaiting solutions. The good news for us entrepreneurs is that our job is, quite literally, about providing solutions to problems. We find the stuff people need that isn’t being adequately provided or may not even exist yet, and we find a way to supply or create it.
We invent, innovate, streamline, and strategize our way to a more perfect world. And if we do it well, we get rich along the way. Not bad, right?
Good intentions without the engine of profit
If the quality of the world were measured by the number of charities, NGOs, and activists it has in it, we’d have a veritable Heaven-on-Earth. But we don’t.
Maybe that’s because we’ve hired the wrong people to do the world-saving all this time when in reality, it’s entrepreneurs who are best equipped for the job. The good news is, now more than ever, entrepreneur’s have the leverage they need to make lasting and positive changes.
As much as we might like to wish it were so, no NGO is ever going to provide internet to nations in the dark that lack the technology or suffer under an oppressive government. Businesses will.
- New apps and VPNs that allow individuals to use the internet away from the watchful eye of government.
- Internet-bearing satellites capable of providing internet to anyone anywhere.
And no number of tie-dye-shirt-wearing, tree-dwelling humans are going to stop rainforests from being clearcut. Innovation will.
- New, sustainable, and low-cost building materials that render rainforest-harvesting too labor-intensive and expensive.
- Fresh competition that makes cutting without replanting an unsustainable and profit-killing business practice.
Don’t get me wrong, we need charities, NGOs, and activists, too. Our predicament—what we sometimes call the human condition—requires an all-hands-on-deck mentality. And I expect everyone reading this to become mega-philanthropists once you’ve secured your wealth.
Saving the world, one sale at a time
In the meantime, entrepreneurs are the ones walking the walk, and most of them are actively accomplishing all the progress the rest of humanity just talks about. Of course there will always be bad apples. For all the singularly cash-conscious corporate losers out there who don’t care about improving the lot of humans everywhere, the universe will sort them out.
Entrepreneurs of all kinds should be proud to be the profit-multiplying, do-good, badass business people they are. As for those whining non-contributors with profit allergies? Cracker has a few words:
“Let’s get off this, and get on with it. If you wanna change the world, shut your mouth and start to spin it.”