“Many are called but the chosen are few”.
This old adage is perfectly true for social enterprise. So many people have a sincere motivation and a real desire to do good. However, they are doomed to fail because they are starting from the wrong place and heading towards the wrong destination.
To prevent taking the wrong journey, it is crucial to plan your social enterprise before your start. It is like building your house on a solid foundation. The best way to plan is to ask yourself some important questions and use the answers to design your enterprise so that it is set up to be a success both for yourself and for the people you are helping.
- What do you want to achieve in black and white terms, both socially and financially?
Take time to really outline your answer in detail and use specific time frames to determine how realistic you are about what you want to achieve now, next year, in 2 years, 5 years and 10. Review the goals quarterly to measure your progress against these original ideas. Of course you can, and probably will change direction or acquire new goals but at least you will understand what you are changing and achieving.
- Is your social and/or environmental mission actually going to help others in the short and long term?
To refer to another old adage “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
The question is, is your solution going to have an ongoing, long-term positive impact? Really think this one through – How will your social solution impact local people, economies and social development?
To give some examples: If you give people free shoes, will you put local shoemakers out of business? If you provide education to people, will they take their acquired skill set out of their community, depleting potential social development?
Always think about the long-term impact of your solution and design it to have as much positive impact as possible in the future.
- What are the potential problems you could encounter and how will you solve them?
Here, your answers to question number one will be helpful. Look at everything you want to achieve and then imagine everything that could go wrong and design strategies which you can then implement to solve problems at each stage. This doesn’t mean, be incredibly negative and focus on all the bad stuff. It means plan to win, prepare to win, and have solutions to potential problems in your back pocket to use as and when needed.
- How will you do it?
So far we’ve asked – What do you want?
- Is it actually going to help?
- What could go wrong?
Now we ask, what are the steps you need to take in order to achieve what you want. It is all well and good knowing your goals but it is even better knowing HOW you are going to achieve them. Look at this HOW acronym:
H for Have: Have good ideas by brainstorming with both blue sky and grey sky thinking. Blue sky means, if I am successful in 10 years time, which steps will I have taken to get there? And grey sky means, if I have failed in 10 years time, what did I do wrong to get there?
Once you have finished brainstorming, avoid your answers to the grey sky thinking!
O for Open: Be open to input. Whether you need training, coaching, psychological or financial development and growth, find sources and learn, learn, learn.
W for Win: Once you have done all the hard work, let yourself enjoy your success! If you are a social entrepreneur, it is not just your own success but also the success of all the people or social issues your work is contributing to, so you can fully embrace capitalism but it is actually social enterprise-ism.
Sometimes to get the HOW right, you have to rearrange the letters to make the word WHO. Who can you help? And to get your social enterprise successfully started, who can help you? For a great answer to that question, why not have a chat with Nyasha Gwatidzo, a successful social entrepreneur who now wants to help others? Either email firstname.lastname@example.org or book a free strategy call with Nyasha.