Bleeding hearts and business

Take your bleeding heart and stuff it.

Well okay then, that’s not exactly what a fellow traveller in small business was told recently by a certain gentleman from the dinosaur school of wheeling and dealing. But this particular gentleman did mention that my mate was unusual for someone in business because she has a social conscience.

Now, my pal ain’t Bono, she doesn’t quite reach Mother Teresa standards of selflessness and sacrifice, and she’s far from saintly. Indeed, her halo is just as tarnished and skew-wiff as the next sole trader’s. But surely she ain’t that peculiar?

Is it really that weird to want to run a business which matches your own set of standards, one which ticks your own belief boxes? It cannae be that weird and wacky to want to be able to do something worthwhile, give something back, or share your skills with those who might not normally rub shoulders with the small business community, can it?

OK, OK, I admit it – I am a bit of a hopeless naive when it comes to the hard-hearted side of business. I am all at sea amongst the great school of commercial sharks, circling in their constant search for shekels. I simply cannot imagine running my business in any other way than with a social conscience.

But before you start painting by self-employment stereotype numbers, this does not necessarily make me, or others in the social conscience scheme of things, bleeding heart liberals or tree-hugging do-gooders.

For me, it’s a no-brainer. Do something useful with your work, and make society a better place – for everyone.

Don’t underestimate the value (societal and commercial) of creating conditions where confidence, communication and collaboration can thrive.  There is true satisfaction and reward to be had from making a difference, and it’s possible to do more than scratch out a living from it too.

Where’s the business bleeding heart in that? This is the very stuff of life. It’s simply stupid to sniff at social conscience and wanting to make a difference with entrepreneurial aspiration.

I do realise that there is a gigantic gulf between me and my set of social conscience principles and those with the profit imperative stamped all the way through their business DNA. I am aware that seen through some enterprise eyes, I am a business baby toddling around on the fringes of the commercial cut and thrust.

But d’you know what? It’s not like I’m out there on the fringes by myself with no-one to play with. There’s a growing army of sole traders, self employees and SMEs who do give a damn.

Maybe it’s time a few of the big business boys and girls came out to play on the social conscience side. Not only would they feel entrepreneurially invigorated, but I’m certain they’d have a lot more fun too.