With the emergence of so many “social businesses,” there’s been a widening distinction made with what many people are now calling non-social businesses. The distinction is that social businesses are built around a heroic mission to make the world a better place, while their non-social cousins exist for a crass purpose — solely to make a profit.
While there certainly are variations in business models, with some more or less focused on social good, every company can only be successful if it’s meeting social needs: starting with its customers but also with its employees, with its supply chain, and, in many industries, with its regulatory authorities. Companies only exist if they get public, ie, social, support.
Thus, all businesses are social businesses. And all business plans need to address social issues. They need to solve genuine problems that matter to a sizable group of people or companies, and by and large that’s not just helping them reduce their costs or make more money themselves.
In other words, some of the most solid business plans are those that emphasize both profits and impacts, and find ways for those two to operate in harmony. Moreover, there’s an emerging body of research that suggests companies that take that kind of a social perspective are more likely to be successful, in terms of revenues and profits, as well as social impact.
You can read more information about this topic in a recent Harvard Business Review article.