Why do you want to be an entrepreneur? Is it because you can make more money? Is it because you can make your own rules? Is it because you can make a unique difference? All of these are great reasons to engage in entrepreneurship.
By taking charge of your own career, you can build something no organization can offer you. You can build something uniquely your own. It’s a wonderful feeling! But if you want to make a lasting difference more than anything else, then social entrepreneurship is the way to go!
What Is a Social Entrepreneur?
Social entrepreneurship is a global movement that uses entrepreneurship to effect social change. A social entrepreneur’s organization can be for-profit, not-for-profit, or a combination of the two. What makes it social entrepreneurship isn’t your tax status. It’s the way that the innovative problem-solving of traditional entrepreneurism is focused on issues of social significance.
A social entrepreneur is someone who cares passionately and deeply about a social issue and works to change that issue using innovative techniques to raise awareness, grow funding, solve problems, and meet needs. Social entrepreneurs earn their living by making positive change happen.
Why Do People Do It?
People do it because they can. Empowered by technological advances, like social media, crowdfunding, and mobile technologies, social entrepreneurs can leverage their ingenuity and drive to create real change in the world.
People do it because they want to. Social entrepreneurs have deep and fiery passions for their causes. They care enough to take risks with their own financial well-being and their own careers. They care enough to make a difference, to create change, and to make it last.
More than that, there are a lot of well-educated, driven, socially responsible college graduates out there that cannot find a rewarding, fulfilling job. They may be able to find work, but it doesn’t satisfy their needs for self-actualization. They dream, they imagine, and they believe in themselves. Given the right encouragement and opportunity, they make the job they really want.
In short, social entrepreneurs are like every other entrepreneur. The only difference is that they are wholly committed to making a difference—a social difference. And you can be too!
Where Do You Start?
You start with an idea. Maybe it’s only the ghost of an idea. What matters to you? What do you want to do about it? You can start there.
In a short, sweet little book, called Work on Purpose, Lara Galinsky of Echoing Green shares the stories of five people committed to social entrepreneurship. One is committed to addressing world hunger, one helps other social entrepreneurs realize their visions, one actively opposes genocide, one builds beautiful homes for people with severe disabilities, and one archives the stories of people who experienced the Cambodian genocide.
What are you passionate about? What change do you want to see? As a social entrepreneur, you can realize your vision and change the world.
It starts with recognizing that you are not where you want to be. It starts with acquiring the education that will empower you. And it starts with deciding what effect you want to have on the world around you.
According to Lara, the key to successful social entrepreneurship is finding the way to sync your heart and your head, which will unlock your hustle.
Who Can Help?
The great thing about social entrepreneurism is that you don’t have to go it alone. Social entrepreneurism is so powerful and so many others are committed to creating social change, there are already organizations committed to helping social entrepreneurs succeed in their personal missions.
Echoing Green is committed to “unleashing your talent to solve the world’s biggest problems.” One of the ways they do this is by providing a fellowship program that trains, supports, and empowers social entrepreneurs in the start-up phase of their ventures.
Ashoka supports a world “where anyone can apply the skills of changemaking to solve complex social problems.” They support social entrepreneurs as individuals and groups. They’re also building the infrastructure to support this new sector that transcends traditional boundaries.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs “provides unparalleled platforms at the regional and global level to highlight and advance leading models of sustainable social innovation.” They include select social entrepreneurs in their network, which increases their visibility and credibility. This, in turn, creates more opportunities for funding, partnerships, policy changes, and media access.
The Skoll Foundation “drives large scale change by investing in, connecting and celebrating social entrepreneurs and the innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems.” By investing in social entrepreneurs when the situation is ripe for change, they increase their impact and elevate their success to a new scale.
And this is only a sampling of the organizations committed to helping social entrepreneurs. From start-up or funding raising assistance to growth and sustainability, the supports are there for the entrepreneurs who are committed to creating effective, lasting social change.
Why Not Now?
You have the drive and ambition. You have the vision and ingenuity. Why not use those gifts to affect the kind of change you want to see in the world? Why not make a difference? Why not start now?
Only you know the answer to those questions. What’s holding you back?
David Waring is a serial entrepreneur and the co-founder of Fit Small Business, a website that helps local companies grow their top and bottom lines. Get Lara’s book to learn more about some entrepreneurship.