The days of companies merely working to turn a profit are beginning to fade away. Social entrepreneurship has become an important part of our economy in the last few years, as people search for more meaning and fulfillment in their lives, using their businesses and visibility in the market to solve social and environmental problems.
Though Microsoft was never a social enterprise, Bill Gates trail-blazed the social entrepreneur mindset — he used his billions made from his for-profit business to create a charitable foundation that helps fund projects all over the world. Gates himself has donated over $28 billion dollars. Modern entrepreneurs who have become billionaires through building startups like Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, and (cofounders of AirBnB) have followed in Gate’s footsteps and joined his Giving Pledge, promising to give away at least half of their wealth to social causes. With their business acumen, social entrepreneurs have the ability to make an enormous positive impact on the world.
Social entrepreneurs either start out with a for-profit business that has a charitable component (such as the shoe company TOMS, which donates one pair of shoes for every pair sold) or, like Gates, build a profitable business and use those resources toward founding a non-profit. Social entrepreneurship is a growing part of the economy, and some universities are even beginning to offer degrees in the subject. Does becoming a social entrepreneur and doing some good in the world sound like your dream job? If so, here are 5 essentials to social entrepreneurship in 2018.
1. Don’t Forget the Necessity of Marketing
Many people have a negative view of marketing, especially when nonprofits and social enterprises are involved. However, it’s absolutely essential for social enterprises to have a solid marketing strategy. How are people going to get involved unless they know your company exists? Marketing is one of the most important activities businesses engage in, and even social enterprises need to invest in it. Put aside any feelings you have about marketing and get on board: you’re going to need it.
2. Develop & Engage With Leading Employees
Building a business of any kind requires that you choose the right people to help you reach your goals. Your leading employees are your future, and they will help drive your team to success. You can’t do it alone, and it’s important to develop and engage your best employees so they can help you grow long-term. Creating an engaged team is essential for productivity and efficiency, so engage them by helping them develop their skills and really dive into the company’s mission. Developing employees will help retain top talent — 76% of employees would like to have growth potential in a job.
3. Find Role Models & Mentors
Social entrepreneurship is a difficult path. You have all the challenges of “normal” entrepreneurship with an additional element to worry about. Finding mentors and role models who will inspire you on your journey will help you make good decisions and make it through the difficult times. Mentors will help you from making common mistakes and make you a better entrepreneur.
4. Consider All of Your Funding Options
Just like any business, social entrepreneurs need to secure funding before any meaningful work can be done. Though loans, venture capital, and angel investing are all on the table for social enterprises, they’re not the only options available. Options like crowdfunding and peer to peer lending could be a better choice for some businesses. Crowdfunding, which has grown from $880 million in 2010 to $34.4 billion in 2015, not only provides funding for projects, it can also provide proof of concept and support from the public. Social entrepreneurs should critically evaluate how much capital is needed to run the business, and choose the funding type that makes the most sense.
5. Don’t Forget Your Tenacity
Want to end world hunger? Buckle up, because social entrepreneurs have to have a lot of tenacity to make headway on their goals. While your organization’s mission can provide a motivating force behind your work, it’s important to realize that this motivation will be tested. Social entrepreneurs face cynicism, bureaucracy, and other frustrating hurdles in their work. The ones that succeed have the optimism and tenacity to truly make a difference.