Can You Have a Profitable Social Impact Business?
By Melissa Wickes
December 8, 2022
After the few years we’ve had, it’s no surprise that people are looking to maximize their social impact in their careers and find jobs that feel personally valuable. But finding that crossroads between profit and purpose can be challenging—is it really possible to to be for purpose and for profit simultaneously?
Well, it depends on how you define purpose. Many would argue that the work you do as a leader in youth sports is inherently purposeful—and if you’re making money… well, then it is possible.
But how do you find the perfect balance between high growth and social impact? It’s not easy; And some search their whole lives for the answer to that question.
Social Impact Business Growth in Action
Tatum Boehnke, Director of Community and Impact at Kids in the Game, feels like people often make assumptions about the social impact you offer based on what your job is. Kids in the Game is a youth sports organization that offers school programs and summer camps to 15,000 kids across NYC and has worked to find the balance between profitability and impact since inception. In fact, they’re one of the only youth sports companies in the world that is a B Corporation—which means they meet the highest standard of social and environmental impact. So how do they do it?
“We do not grow if it does not grow impact,” says Tatum. Kids in the Game made the choice to launch a 501C Nonprofit to fill in their impact gaps—like providing financial support to families who can’t afford programming and examining programs to see how we can do better.
“By combining the two, neither is spread too thin,” says Tatum.
So are you able to profit and serve a purpose at the same time? Well, it really depends on what you define as purpose. Anjali Kumar, author of Stalking God—My Unorthodox Search for Something to Believe in, argues that youth sports is the perfect example of that combination.
“As long as it feels like I have some impact, feels good, and it’s not hurting people, that’s the right next step for me,” says Anjali.
Being able to experience high growth is a completely different story, however. Bootstrapping is one thing—but experiencing high rates of growth in a short period of time can often rely on a ton of work and frankly, huge amounts of money.
Andy Burress—owner of 5 Star National Baseball—recalls a conversation with Warren Buffett during his Dairy Queen franchisor days. “Go find out who is doing it best in your industry and do it like that.”
Sam Jacobs, Founder & CEO of Pavilion and author of Kind Folks Finish First, is a big believer in manifesting your future. He often articulates to himself what he wants a year from now and puts himself in the shoes of himself in a year. His tips for building a profitable business that continues to make an impact are as follows:
- Build relationships not transactions
- Help people without asking for anything in return
- Stop keeping score
- Play for the longterm
Learn More About Growing Your Youth Sports Organization
NextUp is the only community and conference designed to provide youth sports leaders with opportunities for professional development and networking. Watch highlights from NextUp 2022 in the content hub here.