Ethical and sustainable SMEs: is it possible?
“The economy of the common good is above all an ambition, that of making our economic institutions contribute to the general interest.” Jean Tirole 2014
Entrepreneurship is frequently portrayed as a predatory practice whose sole purpose is to maximize profits. The press regularly reports on spectacular fundraising or abusive circumvention of labor and competition laws and regulations. As for the entrepreneur, he would be guided by the only appetite for power and an ego out of the ordinary. In a word, entrepreneurship rhymes money with personal satisfaction.
Earning and giving money are generally considered two separate operations in our societies. First you become rich. Then you become a philanthropist and you distribute some of your fortune.
However, there are behaviors that make it possible to give more meaning to its action, to create more commitment on the part of its environment and to have a positive impact on the world in the short, medium and long term. How about combining business and common good? Take the best of entrepreneurship and exploit it to do the common good?
What could be the basics of entrepreneurship of the common good?
Vision before profit
Every business must have a vocation to serve a wider cause than simply maximizing the profit of its shareholders. At first, most entrepreneurs are motivated by passion and the desire to contribute to society. He wants to bring a great idea to the world and express their vision well before seeking profit.
And then one day, the initial vision seems to wither and profit becomes the sole goal of entrepreneurship. The entrepreneur must then rest the question of his vision. Question his motives without complacency. How do we serve the world? How can we reinvent ourselves to make our business more positive in its impact? How to bring more value to all stakeholders?
Stakeholders satisfaction as an end in itself
Entrepreneurship of the common good considers meeting the needs of all stakeholders as an end in itself and not simply as a way to meet a priority category. The essential difference lies in the systematic and sincere search for synergies between all the stakeholders, rather than in the search for compromises.
In a traditional view, a good entrepreneur is one who knows how to find the trade-offs that first benefit shareholders before other stakeholders … and when looking for a compromise, we always find it.
The vision of entrepreneurship for the common good is different. Integrating stakeholders does not mean seeking a compromise, but using everyone’s capacity for innovation and initiative. It is a question of undertaking for the good of all the actors by gathering their interests in the same direction. It should work in the “and” mode rather than “where”.
The co-construction of a culture of the common good
Being an entrepreneur of the common good means intentionally developing a culture that serves his mission and vision. A culture that promotes independence, trust, responsibility and openness, internally and externally. A culture where these common values are not mere words displayed on communication media; but are incarnated in every interaction and act of everyday professional life.
Create a dynamic of collaboration and an appropriate structure to catalyze and create shared learning, thus boosting the collective capacity to innovate and create more social value.
Moving from egocentric entrepreneurship to the common good
Entrepreneurship should not be seen as a separate entity from the rest of the world that ignores the difficulties of humanity, ignores the fate of future generations, and focuses exclusively on immediate individual success. It is possible to commit to the common good.
For this, the first responsibility is to seek to grow by interacting with others around you. Learning, growing, transforming requires courage. Because it’s about accepting to challenge yourself daily. To question his certainties and to face each other. Face his own fears and limitations. Meet who we are to not find out who we are. To question ourselves without complacency on the deep meaning of our personal action in the world, on the vision of the entrepreneurship that we lead.