Social entrepreneurship is on the raise. Though scores of aspiring entrepreneurs set up small businesses with a strong social angle, many are still unaware of the basic steps to lay the foundation for such a venture. Before you even read any further, ask yourself this question – “do I want to set up a venture that acts as a catalyst for the betterment of the society in some way and do I want to make social impact the main focus of my business?” If the answer is an emphatic “yes”, then its full steam ahead for you! For small businesses catering to social entrepreneurship,
here are a few ways to get started:
Make it relatable: It is important, especially for start-ups and small businesses to remain relatable to their stakeholders – this way your stakeholders will identify and empathize with your social venture. There will be better acceptance of the social cause and your business.
Funding: It is common perception that most small businesses are funded by venture capitalists. Venture capitalists, angel investors or even hedge funds are not necessarily the only source to raise funds to support your small social business.
For social ventures, funds can also be acquired through banks, trusts, high net worth individuals and philanthropists who accept lower returns on investments. Look at these sources to finance your small business.
Understand Social Return on Investment (SROI): Profits solely do not measure the success of a social venture. SROI helps in learning the impact the social venture has had on the society. While profits are important, as a social entrepreneur, you should be able to put SROI before any monetary returns.
Be pragmatic: While it is great to be passionate about the social cause you are trying to forward to your business, it is imperative to keep the business angle in mind. You are here to still make profits too. Choose to start a business where you either have domain knowledge or expertise – for instance, you may have the knowledge, skill and contacts to start a business related to gardening in urban spaces, selling products made by underprivileged or differently abled children.
Keep it simple: The aim and the work strategy of the business model should be simple. People will want to associate and assist you in your social business when they comprehend the functioning of the venture.
Be focused: In the eagerness to undertake a social venture, one often tends to lose focus over the actual problem. Do your homework; understand the difference between symptoms and real issues. Through your business work towards getting to the root of the problem. Outline the vision of the venture and communicate that to everyone working on the venture. Avoid deviation from the main objective.
Hire wisely: A social undertaking requires like-minded people to work in unison. These individuals can be from complete different industry spheres and sectors. The aim should be towards a common vision and goal that helps the enterprise evolve.
Interact: While starting a new social venture, interact with as many different people as possible. Share your vision and mention the purpose of the venture. Be open to suggestions, assistance and guidance that come in your way. Also, this would help in word of mouth promotion which is one of the best ways to promote a small business or social cause. A social venture is not very different from any other business entrepreneurs undertake. The principals of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship remain the same.
The difference lies in the goal of a social venture, which is to accomplish social change, earn profits, and development and improvement of the society on the whole.