A lifetime of good work

Today, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.  He gave his life to work that had a powerful and lasting impact on the world, leaving a legacy so unique that this day is celebrated not as a day off, but rather a Day of Service, where people across the country volunteer to serve others and their community.

If you’re looking for new opportunities to make a positive impact, today or every day, find inspiration in the different ways that entrepreneurs, leaders, and innovators are working for good.

Give to the causes you care about

One approach that’s both effective and sometimes overlooked is for entrepreneurs to work in a field they love and then donate to the causes they care about — even if the cause isn’t related to their daily life. For example, if you’re a freelance tax consultant and you’re passionate about supporting entrepreneurship in developing countries, one of the best ways to contribute might be donating to a nonprofit that provides microloans, like Kiva.

When you think about this approach, it’s easy to think of wildly rich and famous philanthropists (many of whom are entrepreneurs or business leaders). If you’re not wealthy, you might not consider this approach or wonder how much of an difference you can make with your donations. To answer this, nonprofit 80,000 Hours explains how much of an impact people can make even with relatively modest donations.

A similar approach is to donate your time by volunteering at organizations that need your skills and expertise. Many nonprofits are strapped for human resources as well as financial ones, so self-motivated, entrepreneurial volunteers with diverse skills and creative ideas are always needed.

This might be a good fit if you’re a freelancer or solo entrepreneur, or if your business interests don’t have a direct connection to the causes you care about the most.

Marry your mission with your daily work

Other entrepreneurs take an established industry and find a way to thrive while honoring their values and giving back.

For example, outdoor retailer Patagonia’s mission is “We’re in business to save our home planet.” Their business model is making and selling outdoor gear, but they go about business with a commitment to doing things right — setting an example for how the fashion industry can be greener, donating a $10 million tax cut to environmental groups, and working to become carbon neutral by 2025.

Warby Parker, a company that sells eyeglasses and sunglasses, works with nonprofit partners to distribute a pair of eyeglasses to someone in need for every pair they sell.

This approach could be a fit if you’ve already found the industry you’re passionate about (and potentially already built a business within it), and it’s entwined with the causes you care about.

Make it your business to solve a problem

If you take a look at many of the greatest social and environmental problems we face today, you’ll find businesses looking for a solution.

For example, there are a handful of companies trying to create plant-based alternatives to meat. Research has shown that one of the most effective thingsthat an individual can do to to reduce climate change is to eat less meat if they can; companies like Impossible Foods, and Tofurky, (along with nonprofits like The Good Food Institute) are trying to make it easier for individuals to take this step.

Other organizations that fall into this category are businesses and nonprofits working in alternative energyhealth care, or those creating innovative building methods to provide affordable housing and refugee shelters.

If you’re creative, persistent, and you’ve got a problem you’re itching to solve, this path might be one to pursue.

No matter what, keep moving forward

Entrepreneurship takes tenacity, creativity, and passion. Making a positive impact on the world around you takes the same qualities.

Most people pour a lot of their time and energy into their daily work, and one of the greatest rewards of entrepreneurship is that you get to choose the work that matters the most to you. So today, and every day, choose work that matters.


Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.

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