2Doing good versus doing wellBALANCING IMPACT AND PROFIT

Is yours a business idea that creates the common good? Or a social idea that gets carried out through a business model? Late at night, at social enterprise gatherings, the bars and lounges are filled with people debating this core paradox. As Shari Berenbach of Calvert Foundation says, “Mission-versus-margin is not an abstract trade-off.”1 (For the sake of this discussion, we use “margin” as shorthand for “earned operating income” simply because “mission versus margin” rolls off the tongue better than “mission versus earned operating income.”)

While the trade-off defines the decisions that need to be made, you must look at the question broadly. You don’t have to settle for an either-or ...

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