Young entrepreneurs today are not just after profit when launching their businesses — they also wish to use their expertise in a way that will positively affect society as a whole. This business concept is called “social entrepreneurship.”
In 1998, Gregory Dees pioneered the concept as an academic field of study. He also defined the key roles of social entrepreneurs in helping to promote greater understanding and emphasize their significant contribution to society.
According to Dees, social entrepreneurs serve as catalysts for change. They make it their mission to create and maintain value for society and not just for themselves. All the while, they continue to pursue new opportunities, engage in innovation, and act boldly even with limited resources for that mission.
Why Social Entrepreneurship?
Generally, social entrepreneurship answers the question: “Why does your business exist?” For most social entrepreneurs today, the decision to create their business under this concept is driven by the following goals:
Become more connected to their life’s purpose
For Melissa Levick, co-founder of SaaS platform Honeycomb, engaging in social entrepreneurship helps them establish a deeper connection with the company’s mission. Contrary to what some people think, this concept is not used for marketing but as an authentic mechanism aimed at solving societal problems.
Achieve long-lasting happiness and fulfillment
Although social entrepreneurship is supposedly intended for social well-being, it also offers personal benefits to the professionals and leaders engaging in it in the form of long-lasting happiness and fulfillment.
This, says Corporate360 founder Varun Chandran, was the very same thing that kept him going — not the money he made after traveling to 32 countries. Being able to do something good for his community was the path he took to gain authentic bliss.
6 Steps to Becoming a Social Entrepreneur
The formation of socially responsible firms is not a question of skill, but a matter of passion and strength of morals. This means that even if you are an expert in your industry, you still need to assess where your values lie to see if this business model would work for you.
After solidifying your passion for social welfare, it is time to start your journey as a social entrepreneur by following these six important steps:
#1 Choose an issue and study it well
At the very beginning of your journey, you need to determine what problem you wish to tackle as a social entrepreneur based on your company’s capabilities. Pharmaceutical firms, for example, can venture into making medicine more affordable to ensure universal access to quality health care. The bottom line is that you should incorporate your own skills into the mix to ensure that you are on the right track.
#2 Decide on a solution
After choosing a problem, it is time for you to come up with a solution. As a social entrepreneur, you can choose from four methods:
- Company profit donation
- Affiliating with a community, charity, or cause
- Start a direct fund-raiser for a specific issue
- Come up with a service or product to raise money to fund the projects to solve the problem
#3 Create a brand and market it
Once you create a business plan, the next thing you need to do is to put it into action. To do this, you must first create your brand and start marketing it. Whichever method you choose to solve any issue, increasing public awareness can definitely benefit your cause, especially if you don’t have enough funds to launch a huge marketing campaign.
#4 Operate as you would any business
Social entrepreneurship companies are still businesses. Even though there’s a non-profit side to it, you still need to run it like you would a profit-generating company. This means you have to create a strategic plan that you can execute efficiently.
Operating the way any business would also mean that you need to hire professionals — preferably those with more knowledge, expertise and skills that you may not have. Also, hiring the best in the business means you need to pay them accordingly.
#5 Practice transparency
Transparency is one of the most important elements of social entrepreneurship. It ensures that the organization genuinely aims to help society rather than making charity work as a front or a marketing tool. To do this, all operational processes and money flow should be made public to show that most of the funds raised are going straight to the company’s cause.
#6 Team up with the right entities
To start your journey towards becoming a successful social entrepreneur, you must first acknowledge that you cannot do it on your own. Instead of trying to get by with what little you have, why not go for partnerships that will benefit the company and your cause?
Team up with firms like the Legatum investment group that not only provide funding for the start-ups they take under their wing, but also offer education and community resources to help them succeed.
Social entrepreneurship is more than just a fad — it is a venture that benefits both the shareholders on a personal level as well as society and its prosperity as a whole. Becoming a social entrepreneur requires both skill and passion to do good not only for oneself, but also for the world.