The Big Picture: Why you Should Start a Social Enterprise
The number one reason to start a social enterprise is to help the world in some way, no matter how big or small.
Social Enterprises fill the gap in existing services that cannot be provided by the public or private sectors. They develop communities by giving opportunities to groups that are isolated or disadvantaged, they contribute to a sense of local identity, and they help to develop the self confidence of local people. All social entrepreneurs share one thing in common. They are all trying to use their skills and interests in business to make their community a better place.
If you feel strongly about a social cause and have an idea for a business that can contribute to that cause in some way then social entrepreneurship could be a great route to explore.
Check out the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 for guidance. If you plan on contributing to one of the causes listed on their website then you are probably off to a good start with your social enterprise idea.
Check out these goals here:
Is this Really the Right Route for you?
As we have already stated, there are a multitude of reasons for starting a social enterprise, but when making any big life decision, it is important to reflect on both the pros and the cons. Social entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody, and being honest with yourself if social entrepreneurship does not align with your personal goals will save you a lot of time and inconvenience down the road. So, here are some reasons you shouldn’t start a social enterprise.
If you prioritise profit over cause
If you are more bothered about profit than the cause itself, starting a social enterprise may not be the right route for you. Profit is obviously very important. Without profit you wouldn’t be able to deliver your services and thus continue to help those who benefit from them, but in our opinion the cause should always remain top priority.
If your goals are more profit orientated, but you still feel like you want to contribute to a cause in some way, then perhaps it would be better to set up a limited company and contribute to your cause via CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs. There is nothing wrong with doing this. It is best to help the world in a way that will be sustainable for you in the long term.
If you feel strongly about a cause but have no business model
To run a social enterprise successfully, it is not enough to be passionate about a cause. You also need to be business minded. As a social entrepreneur, you will be expected to generate 50% of your own income and to do that you will need to have a well thought out business model. If you are not interested in setting up a business and everything that comes with it such as marketing, finances, business plans etc. then you may be better off forming a charity instead. Again, there is nothing wrong with this route. It is best to help your cause in a way that suits your own goals and interests.
You can read about business models here in some of our other articles.
If you are not prepared to work hard
As a social entrepreneur, you will quickly discover that your business will become more of a lifestyle. Running a social enterprise is hard work and takes up a lot of time. You have a duty to both paying customers and funders who provide you with grants, not to mention the communities your business aims to help. In this way, running a social enterprise becomes a way of life. It is not a typical nine to five, and that is definitely something worth noting before getting started.
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