Craig Hall expects a lot from his fellow entrepreneurs. His 285-page book, The Responsible Entrepreneur, is basically a blueprint on being, well, responsible. Think being an entrepreneur is just about making money? Wrong, according to Hall, whose Dallas-based company, Hall Financial Group, donates 5 percent of its income to charity. So in case anybody out there is feeling a bit unfulfilled or empty, and wondering whether they could be doing more, listen to what Hall has to say:
OK, this isn't the best way to put this, but why be responsible? In other words: What's in it for me?
Craig Hall: Being responsible is all about building relationships, community and trust. You're showing your integrity and your ethics. And that's going to bring you, in the long run, more customers. But in my heart of hearts, I know the intangibles are what make being responsible so worthwhile. You end up meeting new and interesting people, and you may find different ideas, products or services. In my experience, good things happen to good companies. Better employees and more customers gravitate toward you, and you establish loyalty.
What would you suggest an entrepreneur do if he or she wants to be more responsible?
Hall: You can go on boards of charities, or give some of your income or profits away. At first, it feels strange to give away money. You want to have as much capital as possible for your company. But that's why we've made it a structured amount, and if you can't afford 5 percent, you can do 2 or 3 percent, and that probably won't deprive you. But however you want your company to help others, you should definitely participate in something you have a passion for, or that isn't far off from what your company does. If you're interested in art, do something with a local museum. If you're a restaurant, you could do food drives or have celebrity chefs come in for a fundraiser.
How else can we emulate you?
Hall: At our company, any employee can take off 40 hours a year to do charitable work, so if they want to spend a week to build a house with Habitat for Humanity, we'll pay for it. Most times, if companies encourage employees to volunteer, those employees will take them up on it. Now, as a smaller company, maybe you can't be that extreme, but you could allot a smaller amount of time-say, 20 hours-for volunteer work.
Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.