There’s one thing that’s tougher than starting a business: Taking on the world’s problems.
There are plenty of social issues and challenges facing our society. This includes the environment, mental health, physical illnesses, prejudice, and poverty, just to name a few.
Maybe you can’t solve all of the world’s problems. But you can use your business to raise awareness and help an important cause. That’s what social entrepreneurship does.
Check out how and why social entrepreneurship works to help many business owners and the social issues they care about.
What Social Entrepreneurship Means
Social entrepreneurship means having a business where helping at least one charitable cause or social issue is a major focus.
A social entrepreneur can still work on making profits for their business. At the same time, they can work on bringing in money and awareness to a social issue or a charity.
Two Types of Social Entrepreneurship
There are different ways to become a social entrepreneur.
1. Profit-Based Businesses with Social Awareness
Most social entrepreneurs focused on helping society fit into this traditional type of business. These businesses work to make a profit. They also use parts of their income, products, and services to help social causes.
For example, a social entrepreneur with a baking business can make profits by selling a variety of desserts and snacks. This person could work to raise awareness about hunger and poverty by donating some of their income and food to local nonprofit shelters and food pantries.
A cooperative is a business that works to help their members or customers take care of their own social, financial, and/or cultural needs. Popular examples of cooperatives can include credit unions and farmer’s markets.
Why Should You be a Social Entrepreneur? Three Reasons
It’s great to want to help other people. But it’s also helpful to keep in mind what social entrepreneurship can offer you and your business.
1. A Deeper Meaning
The recent global COVID-19 pandemic showed many business owners and employees that there’s more to life than just making money. Many people have realized there are certain social issues they care about such as poverty, injustice, and environmental issues.
Every entrepreneur needs to have a strong belief in their products and services. Using your business to help with a social issue can motivate you to keep growing your business, even when you’re dealing with certain challenges or problems.
2. Building a Better Brand
Storytelling can be more than just a recent buzzword used by certain social media influencers and marketers. Sharing your business’ story gives your customers, and possible business investors, a behind-the-scenes look at why and how you’re creating your own business.
Talking about certain social issues and why they’re important to you can help you attract loyal customers who also care about these issues.
Social entrepreneurs can also bring a positive spotlight to their business and their favorite social cause. Your business’ charitable work could be featured by bloggers, podcasters, social media influencers, news channels, as well as online and traditional publications.
3. An Easier Way to Find Great Business Partners
Most entrepreneurs know they should try to connect with other businesses and organizations. Let’s face it. Networking, online or in real life, is hard.
For social entrepreneurs, putting the focus on a larger cause or social issue makes networking feel more natural.
Most charities and nonprofit organizations are always looking to work with new businesses and entrepreneurs to help raise money, donations, and awareness about social issues. This makes it easier for a social entrepreneur to ask how they can help a charity or nonprofit.
Compare that to awkwardly sending a random email or giving a business card to another business owner while trying to connect with them.
Becoming a Social Entrepreneur: Three Steps
Here are three things to consider when starting out as a social entrepreneur.
1. Choose a Cause
Take some time to think about what topics and social issues grab your attention when you’re on social media or watching videos, movies, and shows. Do you tend to read or watch online posts on the environment? Do you want to help people who are dealing with poverty or prejudice?
Start with one cause that’s the most important to you.
2. Plan Your Business.
Consider different ways that you can make money to support social issues that matter to you. Decide if you want your business to have a direct or less direct connection to a certain charity or cause.
A direct example could be a social entrepreneur starting a tutoring business. This business owner then spends part of their income buying school supplies and donating those supplies to a local school or children’s charity.
3. Promote Your Business and Your Cause
Now, it’s time to tell people about your business while raising awareness about an important cause. Maybe you’ve heard the common advice that every business needs a mission statement and a story.
Making a social issue or charity a major part of your business makes it easier to share your business’ mission. Being a social entrepreneur also gives you a great, compelling story that makes your business stand out from other businesses.
Use social media and your business’ website to promote your products and let your customers know how they can get involved with your cause. Follow the social media accounts of groups and organizations raising awareness about this issue.
Take part in online and in-person events, such as fundraisers, to help support your cause.
Also, contact bloggers, social media influencers, and local news organizations to share your business’ story and your mission to raise awareness about a social issue.
Final Thoughts on Social Entrepreneurship
What social entrepreneurship offers are ways for you and other young business owners to use your talents and knowledge to help charitable groups and causes.
Many social entrepreneurs have profit-based businesses with a focus on social issues. Some social entrepreneurs start and run cooperatives, such as farmer’s markets and credit unions, that focus on helping their own customers meet important financial and/or social needs.
Being a social entrepreneur helps give your business a deeper meaning, build a better brand, and connect with other groups and organizations that share your interest in a social cause.
You can start your business as a social entrepreneur by:
- choosing to focus on just one social issue, at first
- taking steps to plan and create your business
- promoting your business while raising awareness about an important social issue.
Wanting to help others can feel overwhelming. But social entrepreneurship is a powerful way to make a profit while making a difference.