Get Richer with the Social Good

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Start-up and small business founders often have big ideas about how they'll change the world. These don't always bear out, nor do they need to (we get it, you're a disruptor). But many of these types take pride in the fact of creating jobs, especially in this economy.

If you're looking to go a step further and build a business or nonprofit that benefits the public, you may not expect to have a big financial output. But new research from Australia and Sweden suggests starting companies that deal in the social good are not just better for society — they're better for economies too.

Some of the differences are definitional: For instance, the study authors point out that many commercial businesses are actually individuals choosing self-employment. Those that comprise multiple employees often deal with strong competition on a crowded field — think how many graphic designers or taco stands there are out there.

"Social ventures address underserved 'markets' of social problems, such as homelessness, substance abuse, domestic violence, refugees, environmental concerns, animal shelters, foodbanks, crisis centers, youth unemployment, and so on," the authors write. "This creates room for growth without pushing out other social ventures. And being passionate about solving as much of 'their' social issue as they possibly can, social entrepreneurs are motivated to grow."

It's not all smooth sailing, of course; anyone who's ever worked for a nonprofit or an underfunded government agency can tell you that. But if you're looking for a built-in way to scale your services and to strengthen your area's economic base, you might look into how best you can start to give back.