Home > Social Entrepreneur Series > Reflections of A Social Entrepreneur: The Bottomline

Reflections of A Social Entrepreneur: The Bottomline

Most of us have probably heard of the Triple Bottom Line business approach. (Well if not, a quick Google search will be useful)

Basically, the Triple Bottom Line is a business approach that social entrepreneurs have come to embrace as we build our businesses from the ground up. The TBL or 3BL approach highlights the importance of 3 main things when building your business – PEOPLE, PLANET and PROFIT.

To put it simply, we are being called to start businesses that earn PROFIT (as all businesses should) but at the same time ensure that no damage is done to the PLANET (by ensuring sustainable environmental impact) and realizing fair and just work and profit for the PEOPLE.

The end goal of this approach is to make the business as sustainable as possible in terms of human capital, environmental practices and economic value.

However as I reflect on my own experiences, I felt the need for a Fourth Bottom Line – One that would sustain the Entrepreneur especially in the early stages of the business where they are expected to face all sorts of obstacles and challenges that can break even the strongest of men and women. It will also be a significant driving force in scaling up the business in the long run.


While the promise of profit and fulfillment hold much value, Passion is what will sustain the entrepreneur once the initial excitement of starting a social business dies down and the challenges come pouring out from the sky and the doubters and naysayers come knocking on your door. Equally important as sustaining your business is sustaining yourself and your drive to succeed regardless of challenges, mindless of reward and despite people telling you that it can’t be done.

(From personal experience, the temptation of having an 8-5 job with a guaranteed salary tempted me more than once in the year that I spent trying to build my own business. Just a month and a half ago, I almost gave in. ALMOST. As fate would have it, things started to pick up. As faith would have it, my days spent in prayer during trying times seemed to have finally reached the ears of a Higher Being. At this point, I am 100% sure that I will push through with this and venture into more social businesses later on.)

I have seen entrepreneurs who buckled down from the challenges that they encountered and some budding entrepreneurs who lost steam and left their businesses unfinished mainly because they did not have passion for what they started.

It taught me that while Inspiration allows you to hit the ground running, it will be Passion that will allow you to keep running until you get to the finish line.

Build a business with PEOPLE – because with them you have limitless potential to grow.

Build a business for the PLANET – because with it you have unlimited resources to develop

Build a business for PROFIT – because you’ll need it to take care of your people, your planet and yourself.

Build a business with PASSION – because when you’ve taken one too many falls and tumbles, it will keep you going.

“And that’s the bottomline! Because Stone Cold says so!”\

or as another bald guy says… “That’s the Bottomline!”

  1. March 8, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    Nice post, I would even argue that a triple bottom line will soon be the norm in the for-profit world. Here is my latest post on this subject as we the consumers need to demand the triple bottom line from the companies we do business with:

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