As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in what you’re doing on a daily basis. You might forget about some of the social, economic, and environmental issues facing our world, because you’re just trying to get your product to market or work all the bugs out of your service. In fact, you might be isolated, spending most of your days at home, getting very little news about what’s going on in the world around you.
Although the hustle can take up a lot of your brainpower, it’s important to remember that you don’t live in a bubble. All of society’s issues affect you, your business and the people around you, and it’s important to understand these issues and care about the potential solutions to them.
While you don’t have to be passionate about every issue, here are 4 that are very relevant to anyone starting a business in our modern world.
1. Funding the Education System
In theory, we all know how important it is to educate the next generation of innovators, entrepreneurs, and workers. Even people who don’t have children know that this is a key component of future success.
Despite this agreement, however, getting funding for our education system has been an enormous ongoing struggle. 50 million students attended public school in 2015, vastly outnumbering the 4.9 who attended private institutions. Many of these students are being shortchanged in educational resources. According to the US Department of Education, over 40% of low-income schools don’t get fair funding from state and local governments.
As an entrepreneur, this matters not only from a social standpoint, but from a business standpoint as well. As you grow your business, you’ll need to hire people. School funding influences how prepared young people are for the workforce as they leave school—and those are the young people you’ll likely be hiring.
2. Maintaining Healthy Economy
One issue that every entrepreneur knows affects them directly is the economy. Though the economy grew by 3.1% in the second quarter of 2017 and continues to be robust, economic growth doesn’t continue forever. It’s important for entrepreneurs to understand the state of the market, and be actively involved in helping to maintain a healthy economy.
Since sales, hiring, and overall business success can shift based on the state of the economy, entrepreneurs need to watch it very closely.
In addition to celebrating during economic booms, entrepreneurs need to be prepared for when growth stagnates or a recession occurs. The most successful entrepreneurs understand the need to stay on top of trends and are always ready to pivot when necessary. Companies that have been in business for decades have withstood major changes in the economy that occur during times of uncertainty.
3. Improving the Criminal Justice System
Crime affects business. Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store, or an online business, crime can have an effect on operations. High-crime neighborhoods can be dangerous locations for stores, while small and medium-sized online businesses are susceptible to cybercrime.
Entrepreneurs need to be aware of how crime affects their community, and how they can play a role in helping to reform the criminal justice system.
Violent crime in the United States has decreased 49% between 1990 and 2015, while property crime was down 51% from 1990 to 2012. However, 65% of offenders reoffend, and there is deep public mistrust in police. As members of the business community, entrepreneurs need to be aware of their role in helping to improve the system.
4. Managing Artificial Intelligence
We all love the technology we have today. From ordering online to self-driving cars, our lives are much easier than they were 100 years ago, thanks to technological advances. The next frontier, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a reality—and while there are great benefits to AI technology, there are some risks that go along with it.
While it would be easier to be blissfully unaware of the risks AI presents, entrepreneurs need to be mindful of how we as a society manage artificial intelligence. If the technology falls into the wrong hands, or is not handled carefully, there could be devastating consequences to society.
AI can help entrepreneurs accomplish their business goals, but these benefits need to be enjoyed in the context of the risks AI potentially poses to our society.
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
Does all of this mean you have to spend all your weekends in call-a-thons or carrying signs? Not at all. What it does mean is that as an entrepreneur, you should keep your eyes and ears open, and realize how important these issues are to every one of us. Read about these issues. Act when you can.
Caring about issues like these, and pitching in in small ways, can make a big difference to society and to your business.