Not all businesspeople are greedy.  We’ve heard the Bernie Madoff investment stories, heard about banks that lend to unqualified candidates, and have seen the get-rich-quick promises on late night TV.  It’s easy to quickly classify all businesspeople or for-profit companies as greedy.  And I agree, greed is typically a short-sighted model for taking advantage of others.

But on the other side of greed is the fear of money. Too many people shun the idea of making money as evil and believe good can only be done by non-profits.  These individuals then spend 80% of their precious time begging for money in lieu of working on the cause about which they are passionate.  Don’t get caught in the delusion that being destitute is a necessary situation for helping the world.  In fact, it will cripple your ability to do so.  Money is like fire – it can burn you and leave you disfigured, or it can keep you warm and safe.

Since Adam Smith, economists have understood that “self-love” leads to quality products and social benefits.  If a baker makes wonderful bread, he/she brings nutrition and pleasure to the community as well as financial rewards for himself and his family.  It is not his “benevolence” but self-interest that provides the most benefits for everyone involved.  And there can be true authentic “benevolence” as well.

Good intentions and a pure and giving heart are not enough.  Economic accountability is a good thing.  If an organization’s efforts are secured by God, the government or the heartstrings of generous individuals, it can be run inefficiently with little measurement of accomplishment.  The businessman has no such cushion.  Either something of value and fair exchange is produced and delivered or the business will not survive.  In that sense, the business model requires more honesty and transparency than the non-profit.

I love running a business.  I love not being handcuffed by a publicly traded board of directors or by the required board for a non-profit organization.  We can make decisions quickly about giving and blessing – and about sound financial opportunities.  I am deeply grateful and feel privileged to be able to have a “not-only-for-profit” company.

How would you categorize your work or business?

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19 Responses to ““Not-only-for-profit””

  1. Josh Says:


    I just published a blog post with a similar meaning, I must have been channeling you when I was writing. When someone is “begging” for someone to give then they are trying to move pieces of a limited supply. When someone is producing they are taking something of lower value and increasing the value. They are creating something that was not there before.

    To answer your question, I categorize my work as finding what I am passionate about, using it to help others, and teaching others they can do the same.

    Josh Bulloc
    Kansas City, MO

  2. Dan Miller Says:

    Josh – hey I just went over and read your post about serving yourself. Yep we’re on the same page on this issue. I’ve never fully understood the dichotomy most people see with making money and helping others.

  3. Foreclosure Coach Jody Says:

    Dan, I love the use of “not-only-for-profit”. I hope the term catches on to accurately describe the heart of the responsible entrepreneur… or at least the successful entrepreneur. Great post, thanks for sharing!

  4. Robin Says:

    Like that term!

  5. Eric S. Mueller Says:

    As a Realtor, I fall under your new (and great!) term, “not only for profit”.

    I’ve spent a lot of time lately wondering why the “non-profit” model is so attractive to so many.

  6. Rae Barclay Says:

    Great post. Look forward to reading your posts each week.
    I too appreciate the term “not-only-for-profit”.

    In my view, you offer HOPE to people. A wonderful gift and blessing.
    Love your book “No More Dreaded Mondays”.

    Keep up the great work.

  7. WilliamPMcG Says:


  8. begintolive Says:


    What theme did you use for this Blog? I am having a hard time finding one.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Matt Kadlec

  9. Dan Miller Says:

    Matt – what theme did I use?? I don’t understand your question. The theme should be clear – making money is good, and ultimately the only way to serve others.

  10. Dave Says:

    Really enjoy your newsletter, I look forward to it every week.
    I recommend it to everyone I know. ( and even some I don’t know.)

    The quote by Christian D. Larson really woke me up.

  11. "Jack" Says:


    I work for a non-profit ministry that relies on the generosity of other people and we barely make pay-roll. I find this extremely de-motivating and ask myself “Why should I invest my abilities here?”

    This experience has created in me the desire to find another job and make as much money as possible- blessing my family first, and the needy of this world as well.

    Why do we forget the Apostle Paul was a tent-maker?

  12. Kathy Lehan Says:

    Hi Dan:

    Funny how God works, yesterday morning I spent a frustrating 30 minutes trying to convince a pastor that making money was not “biblically wrong” using scripture from the Bible!

    I wish I had had this sentence from your blog with me at the time: “These individuals then spend 80% of their precious time begging for money in lieu of working on the cause about which they are passionate.” Touche’ bravo hip hip hooray!

    And, he felt big corporation should turn their profits over to the government so it can be distributed ‘where it will do the most good.’ I pointed out to him that without ‘big corporations’ paying salaries to workers, an awful lot of good (in the form of tithes) would never happen.

    Do you have any wisdom to explain how companies cannot continue to exist if there was no profit in it?

    Thanks, Kathy

  13. Dan Miller Says:

    Kathy – oh my gosh. Tell your pastor that’s called socialism and it’s never worked anywhere. It cripples the will to do good work for anyone. What an absolute horrendous thought – to turn profits over to the government so they can be distributed ‘where it will do the most good.’ When has that ever been proven to produce anything but waste and greed? Private enterprise engages peoples best skills and motivates them to make more money – by serving more people.

  14. Kathy Lehan Says:

    Thanks Dan. I agree completely.

    Unfortunately, that was also part of my 30 minute discussion with him. He believes ‘socialism’ (although he refused to acknowledge that’s what it was), is the only way all men can be equal. While I did not say it, out of politeness, the only equal we’ll see there, is everyone is poor!

    I think socialism creates more need, not less. I even used the Bible story about the talents to make the point that even Jesus acknowledged that men who don’t work hard, don’t have much, and even that will be taken away! It says that in more than one place in the Bible. And, why would God want us to give 10% if we aren’t supposed to keep 90%?

  15. Pam Bailey Says:

    Great post, Dan! This is my dream to have a “not only for profit” business…I like the statement that “it’s not benevolence, but self interest that provides the most benefit for everyone involved”…
    I SO appreciate your thoughts and encouragement!

  16. Scott Preston Says:

    Interesting timing for me to read your post immediately after reading an email from a very worthy non-profit talking about their $78,000 shortfall they still need to cover within 10 days. My thought was – why don’t these organizations try to raise funds by marketing some worthy products and/or services. They could get someone afraid of making too much money to handle that side of things and pay them a very low salary…or maybe an attractive salary to a good salesperson tired of the corporate sales environment.

    I actually saw a link on my friend’s adoption blog for a company that supports adoptive families through coffee sales. I posted their link in the Website window or you can go directly to the company’s story at: http://www.justlovecoffee.com/ourstory.aspx
    Very smart idea.

  17. Jared Miller Says:

    This is extremely relevant information. This is something I struggled with greatly while running a non-profit (as you well know). I’m quite happy to be running a “social venture” or “not-only-for-profit” now. I feel like the weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

    We are now subject to profit and loss, like a real business, but I feel much more comfortable and at peace with that scenario than I do with the idea of having to go out and beg for money every day. And this is much more sustainable, which means our work in serving the women of Africa is as well. And that’s the most important part of everything we do.

    Thanks for a great blog post!

  18. Tony DiLorenzo Says:

    Dan – Fantastic post! I had a different experience with my business, The Dent Dude. I was only in it for the profits and was getting burned out. There was no excitement to the service I provided and it was only for a check. Over a 6 month period I really looked at what I did, I took dents out of cars, but more specifically I was interacting with clients each and every day.

    During this time I began to break out of my rut and started interacting with my clients more. Sharing the value in my service and why I was a better route to go than another competitor or a body shop. I also started to share more about myself and my family. It was amazing the interaction and the long discussions I have now with many of my clients. It isn’t uncommon for me to be working on my clients car with them right there talking and me listening.

    Through all of this I began to build up reviews on Kudzu and Yelp. As I was doing this the excitement of paintless dent repair came back and making a profit has never been more fun.

    I’m living the lifestyle I wanted and enjoying my business more than ever.

    Thanks for all you do.


  19. Alfonso Vaca Nava Says:

    Your reading is vert inspiratinal, It helps me to understand my way of leadership that sometimes leans towards feelings vs accomplishments, excellents insight, This is something that just heard from Harvard,TKY Dan.

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