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To be honest, or as Bruce Macavaney used to say during the 2000 Olympics, “to be truthful”, I am not a devotee of the US style of life. But that does not mean I don't respect their achievements and strengths. And showing small business the way is a case in point.

This begrudging respect comes despite the fact that I have argued at other times that the Yanks have been responsible for junk food, junk bonds and junk movies.

Of course some of their actors are first class, especially the ones that came from here and the UK!

I have to admit I have been a Paul Newman fan ever since I saw him in that classic, The Hustler. Well imagine my delight when I discovered that Paul Newman had been inducted into the Fortune Small Business magazine's Small Business Hall of Fame.

There's only fifteen things better than one great small business success story and that's 15 success stories. That's what FSB delivered in the November 2000 issue.

It's funny, despite the fact that I have been a buyer of Newman's Own sauce, and you see his famous 'mug' on the label, I don't think about his movie characters – Fast Eddy and Cool Hand Luke – when I toss him and his jar of sauce in the trolley. (Hey, don't I sound like a ‘snab’ – a sensitive new age bloke? One day I'll learn to make the real thing...)

Frankly, I don't know if Newman is a new age bloke – Fantail wrappers never went deeply into profiled stars - but I will take a punt that he is reasonably sensitive and even sensible.

You see, he has shown many of us how we can make money by giving it away.

In 1982, when his salad dressing – his own home kitchen creation – was thrown on the market at the urging of a close friend, every cent he made went to charity.

As the product was well received he diversified into pasta sauce, lemonade ice cream, cookies and even popcorn.

As FSB pointed out in that article seven years ago, lots of stars have tried to sell food but hardly any have had the business brains to rack up turnovers like the $90m Newman's Own made in 1999.

Since the charitable brainwave happened, 2000 charities have pocketed $100m – and that's real dollars. Newman does not call his business charity philanthropy; instead, he reckons it is an “investment in a community”.

At a time when businesses are looking for an edge in a very competitive world, business owners should start doing some figures on the kinds of sales that might be possible if their product is identified as supporting good causes.

Accountant, Tony Dormer, who operates a flourishing operation out of North Sydney and Ryde regularly puts on business conferences and donates a lot of the money made to children's charities. He calls it cause-related

And it's funny isn't it, how good deeds can bring good luck, such as a free plug like the one you've just witnessed. Charity should begin, not at home, but at the business.

Published on: Monday, June 29, 2009

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