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For centuries, the traditional driver for bringing a company or business of any size to fruition has been profit. This is the net gain one realizes after accounting for all the effort, costs, labor and time in order to maintain the business.
The possibility of generating income far beyond what a person may earn simply by working as an employee for someone else has always been a factor in overcoming the challenge of starting a business. Despite the fact that starting and scaling a successful business can be one of the most difficult and turbulent times for any entrepreneur, it is currently only surpassed by real estate as the most attractive means of investment for greater personal gain.
Much of this attraction is because businesses are inspiring and tangible; people see successful small and large businesses operating every day, all around them. The idea, whether it involves opening a restaurant or selling a homemade product, seems practical, doable and attainable for the average person, especially when considering assumed profits.
In reality, running a business is extremely hard. Many business owners struggle, chasing cash flow to fend off debt, and many more fail after less than a year of operation. However, successful companies are led by those with an entrepreneurial spirit that motivates them to keep trying. In the chaos of getting your business up and running, it can be easy to forget about marketing, philanthropy and social entrepreneurship. These initiatives are hidden keys to success that allow your business to connect with consumers on an emotional level.
Showcasing your mission
The internet and access to social media have had a huge impact on the success of businesses, especially those in their growth stage. A single viral TikTok can sell out a product and change the life of a business owner overnight. Consumers are more interested in a business’s ethics, relatability and purpose than ever. That being said, businesses have to develop new purposes for operating beyond just driving sales. Mission and common goodwill have become incredibly valuable, especially as more and more consumers utilize the Internet to make their decisions about whom to buy from and whom to avoid. In this regard, the social entrepreneur has evolved, operating a business for both the greater good and making a profit in the same operation.
Social entrepreneurship builds the given business strategy around a social issue first and profit second. The business’s ability to achieve income and net profit is oftentimes treated as an added benefit, with the primary goal of achieving the socially positive impacts driving much of the activity involved. The social issues can vary considerably, from benefiting the environment to providing work opportunities for low-income communities needing career change assistance. Identifying the social issue your company is passionate about and solving can oftentimes drive sales from those in the community, as well as inspire a sense of purpose, belonging and camaraderie within your team.
3 steps to integrate social entrepreneurship into your business
- Education and advocacy: Beyond selling products, emphasize adding educational value and resources to your consumers that enable them to make more informed decisions regarding their purchases. This can include blog posts, social media content, webinars or highlighting your employees on podcasts or in thought leadership pieces. By allowing your brand to become a reliable source of information and advocating for further education on consumer habits, your company will establish itself as a socially responsible entity that genuinely cares about the well-being of its consumer base.
- Cause marketing and donations: Tie sales to a social cause or charitable organization that aligns with your brand. For example, for every product sold, a certain percentage of the proceeds could be donated to initiatives in your community, like providing the homeless with meals or a national scale to nonprofits or charities. This approach creates a win-win solution where consumers feel good about their purchase, knowing they are contributing to a greater good while your company gains customer loyalty and positive brand perception.
- Sustainable and ethical sourcing: Emphasize social entrepreneurship in your supply chain by sourcing ingredients and materials in an ethical and sustainable manner. Ensure that your products are not only beneficial to consumers but also considerate of social and environmental impacts. For instance, prioritize sourcing from fair trade suppliers, environmentally responsible farms or manufacturing plants or even local communities that support sustainable practices. Transparently communicate these efforts to your consumers, who increasingly value companies with social and environmental consciousness.
In a world where purpose-driven businesses are gaining momentum, social entrepreneurship stands as a powerful and inspiring concept that merges profit with positive social impact, offering a compelling path for entrepreneurs to make a difference while pursuing success.