Is Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg a typical entrepreneur?
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement that he will gift 99% of his shares in the social media site – that’s an estimated $45bn fortune – has generated a serious amount of media exposure. Many commentators have dismissed it as a PR stunt, others have celebrated his philanthropic gesture.
Philanthropy among entrepreneurs is nothing new, of course. Entrepreneurs from Victorian captains of industry Sir Henry Wellcome and Andrew Carnegie to modern-day magnates like Microsoft’s Bill Gates donated vast chunks of their fortune to philanthropic causes.
This is a trend that continues to be followed by today’s owner-managers of SME companies. In the UK there are 5.2 million SMEs; 99% of all businesses.
Our clients at BCMS are notable for the way they have taken the spark of an idea, often a niche and specialist service, and run with it, creating dynamic, agile companies from scratch. Seventy nine percent of our clients founded their own company and built it successfully. And a large proportion also have a track record of quietly “giving something back”.
I can think of a number of BCMS clients doing their bit. Many are on the board of Not-For-Profit Organisations. Others run workshops or clinics for aspiring entrepreneurs. Post-sale, many now willingly donate time and expertise to a wide-range of initiatives.
One BCMS client is using the proceeds of the sale of her company shares to start a new life as an unpaid volunteer for a local hospice charity. Our very own company founder Brian Rebbettes long ago established a foundation for children in India – something that has made a very real difference to the lives of people less fortunate than us.
Time will tell what Mark Zuckerberg’s foundation will deliver. But whether running billion dollar businesses, or small start-ups, entrepreneurs make significant positive contributions, not only to our economies, but also to our society.