Many, if not most, people spend their working lives employed by a business that pays the bills. Obviously, they contribute to the bottom line of the company they work for. But, rarely do they need to worry about how to pay for the company’s expenses. They do their job and get paid for it. The companies that they work for have a product or a service for which they can charge more than it costs them to make it. The ‘margin’ between the cost and what they charge is used to pay everyone that works there, as well as the company’s additional expenses.
At some point in time, someone actually started that company. We don’t often think of that ‘someone.’ I have spent most of my professional life being that ‘someone’ in so-called start-up companies. At the very beginning of any company’s journey, there is a ‘someone’ who (1) has a business idea, (2) believes that it could generate a service or product that can generate a margin and (3) believes that they can actually run the company long-term based on the hope that that margin will exceed the expenses it takes to run the company.
This isn’t rocket-science. It’s ‘Business 101’ and it’s the definition of sustainability. But, often, it’s the first step of this journey that is the most difficult. It obviously takes a good idea. But, then it takes three things: (1) enough money to get the company to the sustainable point, (2) enough business smarts to manage the finances and to match the product or service to a customer who is actually willing to pay more for the product or service than it actually costs and (3) the people who can work to deliver that product or service in an efficient way.
In the business world, the money to get the idea started is often called ‘seed funding’. Makes sense, doesn’t it? That early-stage money is an investment in growing the business, the same as a ‘seed’ is an investment in a tree or a vine that will eventually yield fruit. I have spent much of my career taking ideas and searching for this kind of ‘seed funding’. Fortunately, some of these ideas have been good ones, and they’ve eventually managed to support a good company. I have had to couple this ‘seed funding’ with good business minds to help me…my so-called business mentors. I have also had to employ good people with specific skills to make the business operate well.
So…with a good idea, I’ve needed Money, Mentors and Muscle to really make it work. Often, the ‘seed funding’ is the hardest Money to find. It’s when the idea is just that…a potentially good idea. Not a lot of people with Money want to part with it and invest it in high-risk ideas that aren’t yet proven. I think it is why groups of people with Money in the business world are actually called Angel Investors! These Angel Investors with ‘seed funding’ are actually betting on a company to eventually build a business from the idea that can generate a return on the ‘seed funding’…maybe turn each $1 of ‘seed funding’ into $20-30 of return. They usually know that their ‘seed funding’ isn’t going to be the only investment the company needs to get there. But, they intend their ‘seed funding’ to allow the business to get set up, prove the idea can work, and build it to the point where it can get a larger amount of investment to eventually arrive at a sustainable business.
So, what if the business ‘idea’ was actually a product or service that could do all of this . . . AND rather than return the profit to the investor, it returned the profits to someone else?
That ‘someone else’ could be people who needed some help that they couldn’t provide for themselves. Maybe they are trapped in some kind of deprivation or slavery? Or maybe they are stuck in a situation where they just aren’t free yet to help themselves?
Well, this is the definition of philanthropy, isn’t it? We have started All Good Ventures to provide that ‘seed funding’ or Money to such philanthropic, ‘social good’ ideas. All Good Ventures will provide the Money to get these ideas started. And it will also provide some business Mentors to help make the idea materialise into a good solid sustainable business. And it will hook up the idea to groups of skilled people who can provide the Muscle to build it.
I guess you can call it ‘Seed Funding for Social Enterprises.’ That’s what All Good Ventures is all about.
If you want to be one of the first ventures we bring on board, applications are open now, so go ahead and apply!