The term “social entrepreneurship” is becoming a HOT topic in the startup community and on University campuses. The concept is increasingly promoted by the Stanford Social Innovation Review and leading social sector organizations like the Skoll Foundation and Ashoka. There is something truly fascinating about notable social entrepreneurs like Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus. However, social entrepreneurship is not just about extraordinary individuals creating brilliant ideas for products or services that help the world. For many growing thought leaders and Millennials, it’s about the dedication to social change and the potential benefits that transform society!
Social entrepreneurship relies on being driven by the needs you see around you. In your corner of the world, you see a breakdown and think to yourself, “I could do something to help…”And you’re not alone. Everywhere, empathetic people of the world are concerned with giving what they can to others in need. They’re dedicated to commanding their resources to address various issues…. and make money while doing it!
Chances are likely you already have an idea or two in your mind. Here are 5 key pieces of research the AltruHelp team has put together for you to consider while you brainstorm or work towards the success of your venture in social entrepreneurship:
1) Think small when you think big.
Mother Theresa said: “I cannot do great things. I can only do small things with great love”.
In the business world, success is often measured exclusively in terms of profit. Many people invest into this paradigm but social entrepreneurship knows there’s another way. Get comfortable with this idea: the success of your business needs to rely on the individual success of the people you’re serving. Their growth: personally, communally, and economically, is the measuring stick of your success. Be determined to love each individual’s story. Those stories are your company’s lifeblood. As I once heard Alan Lewis of the Lewis Institute at Babson College say, “In social entrepreneurship, you don’t have to choose between profit and purpose.”
2) Grow where you’re planted.
Successful social entrepreneurship often relies on empathizing with a need in your immediate community. Because of your intimate connection, your emotions and stories are compelling. Commanding the power of conviction is paramount to your success. Another reason for building in your own community is because you’re surrounded by people who will most likely sympathize with your cause. This is truly important: a crucial aspect of social entrepreneurship is engaging people who immediately understand the relevancy of your business.
3) Leverage people’s stories to make an enormous impact.
Be a cheerleader for the changes your organization creates. Every small victory is a HUGE victory for your company. Embrace social media, your online presence, and your email list. Never underestimate how much impact a single person’s story has. If you get the right story out – and in the hands of people who are invested in your impact – it will spread like wildfire.
4) Keep stats on EVERYTHING.
Stories and emotional buy-in get people invested and excited about the particular issue you’re championing but the back bone of your business is hard data!
As your venture grows, it will become increasingly essential to produce statistics that measure your success. In the beginning, don’t overthink this one: just come up with as many points of change – both tangible and intangible – that your organization is creating. And record data on them like a fiend. These stats are the “hard numbers” that foundations, businesses and key supporters will want to see before they get involved. Over time, you’ll start to learn what investors and the press are particularly fond of (these things go in trends) and you’ll have a better idea of what to track. Check out Root Cause for insight on how to get started building a performance measurement system that uses your “data to accelerate social impact.”
5) Network – and always ask for what you want.
Building an expanding base of in-the-know people is essential to your business’s growth and health. Champion your cause like a fool; tell your stories and trot out your stats at every party. Put everyone’s email on your contact list. Send out informative newsletters religiously to become a thought leader in your space. If you make it easy for people to buy in, they will!
As Bill Drayton, the social entrepreneurship pioneer once said, “The more eyes we have on society’s problems–and opportunities–the better our chances of coming up with viable solutions.” The real question is, have you found the social entrepreneur in you?