Social entrepreneurship, unlike typical businesses, in most cases are non-profit but even the ones that are profit-based are aimed to make money while solving social problems. Most social enterprises are dedicated to providing help to a group of people (usually marginalized or deprived).
To be a successful social entrepreneur, you must adopt a model that is self-sustaining. In other words, the business’ costs should drop as the number of beneficiaries increases. Achieving balance in its earnings compared to its expenditure enables the enterprise to reduce its dependence on philanthropic help.
These are the steps to take in order to be a successful social entrepreneur or to launch a social enterprise
Know your mission
Begin by deciding the issue you want to address in your community, identify the group you want to serve and how you’d go about it.
Understand the problem you’d like to tackle and create your business service or product to solve the problem.
Do your research and get valuable facts about social entrepreneurship and the current players and how they are making an impact.
Search online for relevant associations and communities focused on the social business landscape. Network with members of these trade associations and figure our how you can collaborate with them in future.
Talk to people
To gather outside support, and feedback, talk to the people in your life and career who you consider to be trusted advisors. Bounce ideas off and seek their opinion. Share with them your mission and the problem you’re looking at solving to make life better for the beneficiaries of your business. Be prepared for discouraging comments and feedback but remember that these people only have good intentions and want to see you succeed.
Networking is not only required when starting a social enterprise, you will need it as long as you’re in business. Whether it is for potential business partnerships, sales, marketing, etc, making connections is vital for business growth.
Developing your network will help you secure your enterprise, whether it’s for profit or not.
Figure out your business model
This entails how your enterprise is going to make money. Decide how much money you need the enterprise to bring in order to support your mission, pay for itself, pay you, and anyone you might hire, and to expand.
In some cases, your target group or beneficiaries of your enterprise might be able to pay for your products or you can have an organization pay for your products which can then be distributed to your beneficiaries.
Figure out your business model but make sure it’s a sustainable one.
Like every other industry, there are funding options specifically for social enterprises or impact investing groups, which exclusively fund purpose-driven companies. Ensure that the goals of the investors you work with are aligned with your social mission, and not just investing in order to get the highest return possible.
Before your social enterprise can come alive, you need one more thing; an action plan. It will include the exact date you want to launch your social venture and how long it will take you to get there, working backward from that date.
As a first-timer in this space, carefully creating an action plan is essential to staying on track. Think of all the tasks you need to complete before your launch date and tick off items on your to-do list.