For Profit or Not – The Quebec Conundrum

For Profit or Not – The Quebec Conundrum

by Cynthia A. Sheehan

In the minds of many Quebecers, non-profit organizations (NPO) will always surpass private enterprise when it comes to low cost and quality service. The reasoning is that since private companies distribute some of the profit to their shareholders, while NPO keep any surplus in the organization, NPOs have more funds available and can offer lower costs and better quality.

The problem with this position is that it completely sets aside the notion of individual motivation. Like it or not money motivates, success motivates. People are more likely to put in extra efforts if there is something in it for them, if they have a personal stake in the results. I have seen how creative entrepreneurs become when it comes to doing more with less, because the very survival of their business is at stake.

Case in point: Children Daycare. We often hear how private daycare must be making profits at the expense of our children. How they must be cutting corners somewhere since they are making profits while the “CPEs” (Centre de la petite enfance) barely make ends meet.

But what we don’t hear about is how owners of private daycares often clean their rooms and offices themselves instead of hiring a janitor. They spend their free time fixing odds and ends in their facilities. They go bargain hunting in the spring and summer, scouring rummage sales for used toys or books. Why? Because every single penny saved has a direct impact on the owner’s salary. It is not about cutting corners. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It is about giving the best possible service with limited resources.

Worker motivation is a huge factor in an organisation’s productivity. More and more companies are acknowledging this and integrating various incentives and responsibilities into job descriptions. It has been proven over and over again that having a personal stake in the success or failure of a project will boost one’s motivation and performance.

So it is not so much about profit or not, but rather about personal involvement, management  values, or employee loyalty. I personally know non-profit daycare (CPE) that maintain this constant vigilance to maximize resources. They do it in a way that involves employees and makes sure that they see the fruits of their efforts.  That way they stay motivated to go the extra mile. And that has nothing to do with being a non-profit organisation or a private business, and everything to do with how the enterprise is managed.
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Cynthia A Sheehan is an Entrepreneurship lecturer at Laval University and also one of the owners of Ross & Sheehan inc.

Categories: Business, News

About Author

Cynthia A. Sheehan

Cynthia A. Sheehan grew up in a bilingual family in Quebec City. She teaches entrepreneurship and management at FSA Laval and is working on many projects including a book on entrepreneurship and the organisation of the TEDxQuébec. You can follow Cynthia on Twitter @SheehanCyn.