Recessions are self-fulfilling prophecies. At the first hint of a slow-down, businesses start to worry. They lay people off and pull back their investments in new initiatives because no one wants to be the last one off the train. Other businesses then react to hearing of the layoffs and pullbacks. They start to stockpile cash, too scared to carry out their plans for promotion and expansion. Fear and negativity rule! Once they decide things will get bad they do get bad. Fortunes were made during the Depression. No one ever writes about that. There are incredibly huge opportunities in a down market, especially for entrepreneurial businesses.
There’s a quiet revolution going on in the world of business. A 2005 survey by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that 81% of business executives believe that “corporate citizenship” should be a priority, and 75% report their businesses are actively involved in bettering their communities. In a 2006 survey of MBA students by Net Impact, 81% thought businesses should work toward the betterment of society. But isn’t the purpose of business to make a profit? Aren’t businesses supposed to be focused on the bottom line? It appears that the very definition of these terms is changing. Increasingly, businesses are choosing to pursue what many are calling the “triple bottom line” of people, planet, and profits. They are judging their own success or failure not just on financial performance, but on how well they address social and environmental issues.