Every successful social enterprise is the result of careful planning, and a combination of different skills. Over time, successful entrepreneurs begin to identify the factors behind their success. An analysis of their insights helps us to identify seven key factors behind success in this field.
- Feel the Passion: Social entrepreneurship can be a profitable career, but profit cannot be the driving force. Successful social entrepreneurs feel a genuine passion for their work. It is important to get into an area that you genuinely feel passionate about. If your passion is genuine, it will communicate to others, and inspire them.
- Solve your own problem: Often, social entrepreneurs have built businesses based on a problem they solved which affected them. Eyal Hassky, founder of Hilico, was a disaster relief worker. He devised a portable rainwater harvester, from tarpaulin, filters and jerry cans, and later on realized that others could also benefit from his product.
- Look around you: You do not have to solve the problems of rural India if you are not familiar with villages. Sometimes, there are problems right in front of you. In the UK, Cemal Ezel would see homeless people begging for change in front of high-priced coffee shops. Sitting in one of these coffee shops, he thought of a solution. He started Change Please, a chain of coffee shops where he trains homeless people to become baristas.
- Use technology: Technology is revolutionizing lives in many different ways. Once you identify an area, explore technological options thoroughly. Is there some way in which something can be done better, or faster, or cheaper, using technology? Nowadays, the answer is almost always yes.
- Write a business plan: A social enterprise is a business. A solid business plan is essential. Get it evaluated by experienced professionals. A good business plan will also impress potential investors or donors.
- Hire for success: ‘Just good enough’ is not good enough. You must hire people who are not only very competent, but also feel the same passion. In the early stages, the core team of a social enterprise is critical to its success
- Market well: The difference between a charity and a social enterprise is marketing. Beneficiaries must be treated as customers. They will only support your enterprise once they are convinced that your product is a good choice. VisionSpring, a social enterprise whose mission is to provide the underprivileged with proper eye care, does more than sell cheap spectacles. It makes them cool and trendy.
Armed with these basics, all you have to do is ask yourself a simple question. How do you want to change the world?
This article is part of the series ‘Social Entrepreneurship: The Basics’. In other articles in this series, we will look at different types of social enterprises and how to raise funds for it, how to start a new one, how India’s youth is embracing them, with inspirational and informative case studies.