More than ever, today people are becoming more conscious about the impact of their businesses in the world. Social entrepreneurs go against the status quo, looking to be successful not only in monetary terms but also in society and leaving a positive mark.
Doing good on one hand while making money on the other hand is not an easy act of balance, especially in a society where profits and capitalism is at the centre of most business models. This, however, does not mean it is not possible. It is possible to be a force for good, and still make good money. Here are tips for becoming a successful social entrepreneur.
IDENTIFY ROOT OF PROBLEM
Many social entrepreneurs begin their journey by being inspired by personal experience that compels them to want to change something somewhere. Whatever that experience is, you need to dig deeper and see the whole picture, and scope of the problem. Building a product or service centred around solving this problem needs a great foundation.
You need to understand the root cause of the problem, how it affects the society, what efforts people have already tried to address the problem. Research on what competition you are facing, what impact they have had in solving this problem, and what possible gaps are still left to fill.
See why previous social enterprises who looked to solve the same problem have failed to do so. What were the challenges they faced, and how would you ultimately approach the situation differently in the event that you face similar situations?
This is probably one of the most important steps for any social entrepreneur. Having complete clarity of the problem, whom the end users are of your product or service, as well as its beneficiaries sets the foundation of your vision and mission.
HAVE A CLEAR MISSION
The centre around any social enterprise is the mission which are important in not only being able to attract investors and partners, but drives the business forward. Be able to measure the benefits, and impact that you would like your business to have on the society.
Creating your mission not only identifies what it is you would like to achieve but looks practically at how you will accomplish it. The mission will keep you focused, give you a sense of direction, and will help you make decisions which sometimes will defy those of normal business practices in your sector.
As you in the early stages venture into your journey, be sure to have a clear vision of how it would look like for you to solve whatever social problem it is that you are trying.
It is important for you to choose your employees wisely. It is prudent that you select like-minded people who truly understand the mission and vision of your enterprise.
Those that you choose to execute your vision can either make or break your enterprise. Find talent that is well aligned to your mission and vision because this is what will drive and motivate your employees to work towards a bigger purpose other than personal satisfaction.
Start with a small team as you look to grow your business, and as your enterprise grows in complexity then you can begin to look to hire more specialised professionals as the need arises.
Just like any other business, there will be a lot of different challenges that come your way, but be rest assured that if you pick the right team, you will be more than capable of handling whatever situation life throws at you.
Create a network and partnership with like-minded people who are also looking to build and grow their social enterprise. Remember that your mission and vision is important in catching the eye and attention of potential investors.
Being able to identify the right board members, mentors and potential investors who are patient and supportive rather than looking for a quick return, or immediate success is crucial for the establishment and growth of your business.
As you look to partners with different organisations, make sure that your values and objectives are complementary to one another…no one wants to get into a partnership that is not mutually beneficial.
BUSINESS IS BUSINESS
Social entrepreneurs often have a challenge in balancing the act between having a social impact versus making profits. This is understandable considering that they are extremely passionate about whatever social problem that they are trying to solve, to the point that profits sit in the background and do not matter as much.
You need to constantly remind yourself that a social enterprise is still a business and needs to remain sustainable. For you to be able to actualise your vision, you need your business to be self-sustainable.
The two cannot go without each other. Regardless of the fact that your business is value-based, you still need to be able to rise above and compete with “normal businesses”.
For instance, what would make a customer want to purchase a beverage geared towards charitable causes versus a bigger, or established brand? The quality of your product and service still matters as much.