Dominik Loncar, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Futurpreneur Canada, firstname.lastname@example.org
Starting a socially minded business can fuel your passion to make a difference while making a living. Here are three fundamentals to consider before you hit the “Go” button.
Ready: Impact is clearly tied to solving a localized problem
Many entrepreneurs who want to start a socially-minded business usually have a huge bodacious goal. There is nothing wrong with thinking big. However, start locally. It is okay to want to make a difference in reducing carbon emission, for example, but trying to start off with planting trees around the world can be a big leap from the start. Instead, how about thinking like Sprout Guerilla, which enables urban gardening with moss graffiti. Moss absorbs air pollution, just like a tree. Or consider Wastenot Worm Farms, which is an eco-conscious worm hatchery with the express purpose of producing worm poop as a natural soil amendment for the organic growing and lawn care markets. Not exactly sexy, but well thought out. These socially-minded businesses are local, concrete and clear.
Set: The concept is passed the idea stage
An idea is a starting point. It’s not a business (or even a socially-minded business). It’s important to test your concept. If you’re producing a product, at the very least, you will need a prototype. If you are offering a service, then you need to have had someone use it (and ideally pay for it). In both cases you will need feedback from potential customers. It’s all in the fine tuning. The vast majority of business ideas, especially socially-minded ones, evolve.
Go: There is a business model
This is another way of saying you can generate revenue – get paying customers. Don’t underestimate the importance of pricing your product at a fair market value and being able to clearly state your value proposition.
Know your expenses. A socially-minded business is still a business. It’s just that it has impact on the community, as well. This means getting out your pen and calculator and going over all the details in terms of costs; from materials, labour, delivery and everything in between. Figure out how you can make a difference while making a profit.
Social entrepreneurship is a viable alternative to working for someone. Keep in mind the fundamentals to steer you in the right direction.