Doing Good While Doing Well
When I talk about Autism Expressed and its mission to teach digital skills to students with autism, many automatically assume that my company is a not-for-profit venture. But Autism Expressed is a for-profit company, a fact which sometimes surprises people.
English teachers will say that "doing well" means a person is content, in good health, or successful. "Doing good" means an individual is performing benevolent acts in the world. But doing good and doing well in the business world don't have to be mutually exclusive.
The reality is that the designation of 401c, or not for profit, is just a tax status. In fact, the salary for an executive of a not-for-profit organization can be several hundred thousand dollars, which seems pretty profitable to me.
From what I know about not-for-profit companies, there are limitations on some of what they can do. These types of organizations have controlling members or boards and restrictions can be placed on how surplus revenue is spent. My goals are ambitious: I want to spread Autism Expressed's product to the growing population of students with autism and I need the resources to meet those goals.
Several decades ago, there was a presumption that you couldn't do socially conscious work and turn a profit at the same time. Today, however, millennials like myself are motivated by doing social good, but we also want to contribute to the economy. Millennials hold a significant amount of power in the marketplace since this generation is immersed in the digital and has in-demand digital skills. Like Philadelphia Magazine's November title said, "We Are All Entrepreneurs Now."
We are in an age where everyone is creating solutions to the problems they experience and recognize, but there's no reason millennials can't make money at the same time.
When so many people are living in this zeitgeist of driving change in pragmatic ways, why can't it contribute to the economy? Our passion will not only drive success, but sustainability as well.
Autism Expressed as a for-profit company is doing good, and will do very well. People—many of them very talented and smart—want to help us. Having access to such resources will help us grow and ultimately have a greater impact.