What is impact?
Simply put, impact is making a meaningful difference in the lives of others. There is no clear objective definition of meaningful difference. But it should not be limited to world-changing disruptive innovation or “altruistic” activities where one is required to engage in the developing world to make an impact. Most business owners who seek to provide value to their customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders (not to be confused with stakeholder capitalism) are making a meaningful difference in those lives. We have a multitude of impact makers in all of our communities.
What is a capitalist?
At the most basic level, a capitalist uses the ownership of something of value to create more value. The beauty of the capitalist system is that a business owner (operator or investor) uses his/her value to add value in the lives of others, while trying to find a balance between being too giving or too greedy.
What is an impact capitalist?
At the heart of the Impact Capitalist philosophy is the notion that impact and profit can be achieved simultaneously. An impact capitalist is one who uses business ownership to make an impact – a meaningful difference – in the lives of others while also looking to make a profit for themselves.
Why “impact capitalist” and not “social entrepreneur?” How are they different?
Both have societal benefit as a core component. However, they differ on many key points. An impact capitalist considers business and market demand, while a social entrepreneur thinks curing social ills independent of markets. An impact capitalist happily pursues abundance (or a profit) and a social entrepreneur is satisfied with sustainability (which is “just enough” to continue existence) while attempting to draw upon business techniques to find solutions to social problems first. Impact capitalists do not seek support from government or donations to make impact and profit. The market determines direction and success (or failure). Social entrepreneurs pursue activities beyond free-market capitalism principles to advance their agenda or proposed solutions.
Impact capitalists are focused on adding value for others within the marketplace. And impact can be accomplished at the individual level, which makes a social impact. Social entrepreneurs are often social activists pushing their solutions into the system. We believe that many social entrepreneurs (and society in general) are better served to think of themselves as impact capitalists. Impact best comes through mutual benefit rather than one-sided advancement of agenda. However, this does not mean we dismiss actions where market forces and economics are an obstacle or at odds with success (there are roles for not-for-profits and philanthropy).
Can only business owners be impact capitalists?
As we have conceived it, yes. This is because capitalism involves private ownership of capital. Employees can also make a meaningful difference (and pursue their righteous path), but an impact capitalist chooses to make an impact and profit through business ownership. Ownership would be limited if there were not employees in the business. Employees are a key resource for the business.
A “business owner” is not necessarily just those who are owner-operators of businesses. A business owner can also include an investor-owner, who wants to see their investments make a meaningful difference in others’ lives. Ownership of stocks and mutual funds are not the same as business ownership.
How is the Impact Capitalists’ Righteous Path different than “pursuing your passion?“
In order for something to be a Righteous Path it must have three components:
- Purpose – the pursuit of your calling
- Passion – the love for and enjoyment of your works/skills
- Profit – can this activity not only provide sustainability, but vitality, or more than enough
It is unfortunate that people are encouraged to “pursue their passion,” as if pursuing one’s passion is the end of such an aim. It is possible to use your passion to find your Righteous Path. The pursuit of one’s Righteous Path is something that is genuine, pure, sincere, and honest. But along with pursuing one’s passion, there must also be a purpose and a profit. See Mark’s blog on the differences between Righteous Path and pursuing passions.
Is this a political organization?
Absolutely not. What’s unfortunate is that one of the reasons we felt compelled to develop this business, website, and community is partly because of the politicization of the economy and capitalism. We feel that impact capitalist is a bit redundant, in that capitalism (in it’s purest conceptualization) requires and results in mutual benefit in a free market system.
Capitalism is a system. Humans interact within that system. Capitalism has been stolen from the true capitalists; impact capitalists are stealing capitalism back.
Hasn’t Capitalism produced more ill than good?
No. However, it is true that both harm and good have resulted from the system. The fact is that there has been much more positive impact created than harm. There are and will continue to be bad actors in any system (and this is true across all systems). But capitalism is the only economic model that incorporates actual human behavior rather than an ideological fantasy of people getting along and seeking communal harmony (utopians cannot have a sustained system because of the reality of human nature and sin).
So why so much negativity toward capitalism? There are many agenda driven agents who do not like the discrepancy between the rich and the poor. Rather than seeing the relationship between risk and reward, they seek equal distribution (rather than equal opportunity on a level playing field). They point to those who have inherited extreme wealth as evidence of failure of the system (while ignoring the fact that the majority of the inherited wealth is lost within a few generations due to a variety of factors outside of redistribution). They also raise to prominence extreme examples of greed and exclaim the evils of capitalists. They take an outlier and present that bad actor as an illustration of all capitalists. And the solutions are to increase the role of government and redistribution. We disagree with this whole activist/political game.
Is impact made only through small and medium sized businesses?
Impact can be made across all sizes and industries. However, impact capitalism is about business owners, and large corporations tend to be publicly held companies focused on shareholder profit, short-term earning calls, and scaling. Ownership in stocks of large entities (or paper stocks) are not the same as business ownership.
What is the Impact Capitalist Society?
We want to bring like minded people together. With numbers, we might even make an impact in the direction of the country. The Impact Capitalist Society is a place to bring people together and share thoughts, concerns, and inspiration. The Impact Capitalist online platform is a free opt-in membership that fosters access to a community, forums, videos, blogs, podcasts, and webinars that promote the notion of Impact and Profit.
What is the Impact Capitalist Institute?
The Impact Capitalist Institute is an subscription-based, online learning platform that provides members-only access to courses, modules, lessons, and webinars to help impact capitalists understand, manage, protect, and grow their personal and business resources.
Who is driving the Impact Capitalist platform?
As a couple of beggars who know how to show other beggars where the bread is, the founders have been able to develop a platform that adds value in the lives of many business owners. The ideas of the Impact Capitalist arose from a number of intellectual exercises by co-founders Mark Aubry and Tom Fediuk (see how they got to Impact Capitalist here).
Do I have to be a Christian to be an impact capitalist?
No. The founders of the Impact Capitalist deliberately incorporated the principles of the Christian faith, as it guides their own intellectual and spiritual journey. It is not necessary to be of the Christian faith to participate in and benefit from the Society or Institute. But faith is a guiding force in the philosophy, perspective, and narrative of the Impact Capitalist. We believe that Christianity is consistent with capitalism when combined with the Impact Capitalist mindset.