The Double Bottom Line
By Doug Fabbioli
The Double Bottom Line
Being a business person as well as owning a business may put me in a category where some may think it is all about the money for me. I have met and worked with many great business people where there is so much more than just the money. Yes, a business should show a profit so it can pay staff as well as grow and pay back returns to its investors; but businesses are also an integral part of the community. They should not exploit the people or the resources to over inflate the profits. A balance of sustainability must be maintained so citizens continue to buy from the business and the business has what it needs to operate and pay its workers. I learned a term a few years ago from a very good business professor called “The Double Bottom Line.”
The bottom line refers to the last number on a financial report showing the profitability of a business. The goal would be to have a strong bottom line to continue doing business. The second bottom line would be something that is more philanthropic. Maybe how many scholarships the company gave to the children of their staff or how many meals they gave to the hungry at holiday time. It may take money to achieve the second bottom line, but it is based on a core value the business leadership has, shares, and feeds.
A great example of the double bottom line is Newman Foods, where Paul Newman started a company selling spaghetti sauce, popcorn and salad dressing. The profits are used to fund The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp. It focuses on serving kids with cancer and serious blood diseases and will continue doing this long after the founder is gone. Microsoft founder Bill Gates took a different angle. He and his wife started a philanthropic foundation to spread around the money in ways they felt would make a difference in the world. As wineries, we regularly get requests for donations to silent auctions, fund raisers and other foundations. Other businesses have different ways to give back to their community as well – some more organized than others.
At Fabbioli, we have been focusing on farming and agriculture education. With my efforts on the rural economy, we have isolated the need for a program to help develop new farmers that will work the land in the 21st century. Our efforts have included identifying mentors, hiring young folks that have the drive and passion to work outside as well as develop a training program that will cover many of the sectors in the rural economy. We are setting up an evaluation method for these young folks in order to help them identify their strengths, challenges and preferences for the work. This has been a labor of love of mine for many years that is finally getting off the ground on a more formal level. If the next generation can learn the effective ways to work our lands and grow the products that we need, the world could be a more sustainable place. Also, many young people can develop a career that may make them healthier, happier and more productive than if they took a different path. There will be more information coming on this effort, but for the 2016 season, we are trying to get the kinks out.
Now, I am no Bill Gates. And if you have seen me, I am certainly no Paul Newman! But I certainly try to identify my mentors, either close or distant, that I can learn from. The concept of the double bottom line is directly from a close person that I learn from on a regular basis. Never stop learning.