social entrepreneurship team building

Social Entrepreneurship #1 Video

Social Entrepreneurship #1 Transcript

This post kicks off a new series of posts with our absolute best advice for social entrepreneurs.

Whenever people ask us for our advice for anyone trying to do something similar we say 2 things first and foremost.  #1 is you have to know that you know that you know (see this post about that topic).  #2 is you cannot do it alone.  #2 is what we’re talking about today.  In particular, how to build your support community.

You Cannot Do Social Entrepreneurship Alone

I firmly believe that trying to start a social enterprise solely on your own is setting yourself up for failure.  You are human and have limitations.  You cannot do everything.  Your mission is too important for only you to be involved in its accomplishment.

Even during the very beginning of the startup phase, you need a team of people.  Specifically, you need 3 types of people on your team: 1. mentors and coaches who have gone before you, 2. peers to help you do the work, and 3. mentees who you are training as part of the process.  Having these 3 types of people in your support community is essential to success.

A Unique Opportunity for Social Entrepreneurs

As a social entrepreneur, you have a very unique opportunity that most entrepreneurs don’t have.  You have a social mission driving your entire business endeavor.  You have an incredible opportunity to make the world a better place.  If you don’t, then you’re not actually a social entrepreneur.

The awesome flip side to your mission is that people are looking for a greater purpose and mission for their lives.  People want to feel like they are making a difference and are looking for opportunities to change the world.  Not everyone has the personality of an entrepreneur.  There are plenty of people who have the personality and gifts to help and serve the mission without being the leader.  Yet, often they’ve never been given the opportunity to help and serve.  They are chomping at the bit so much so that all you have to do is ask.

The only limit to how you take advantage of this intersection between your mission and people’s desire to make a difference is your imagination.  Here’s a story of how we did this to spark your imagination.  Plus, we’ve got a pdf download with an exercise that can enable you to continue sparking and processing your imagination to develop some concrete action steps.

One Social Entrepreneurship Example

You might have heard the advice to talk about the vision for your enterprise as much as possible to anyone who will listen.  We agree.  Make it happen.

We found that as we did this some people would get really excited.  We don’t think it was just because we were talking about coffee either.  I mean, people love coffee, but it was really because people saw the chance to make a difference through what we were doing.

We didn’t ask them to do something right away but we kept note of who they were and we stayed in touch.  We wrote a blog to keep them updated on what we were doing.  We became friends with them on Facebook.  We hung out together.  We built authentic friendships.

Then, when we were ready to really get going with launching our business, we created a “Set Up Shop Committee.”  We made applications and set a deadline to apply.  We ended up with about 20 people on the committee.  We got together a few times.  During the get-togethers, we would facilitate discussion about how to move things forward together.  The people involved got lots of benefit from the relationships they built with one another and from knowing they were participating in something bigger than themselves.  Plus, we made it fun.

The ideas we generated and how the group engaged with helping us “Set Up Shop” probably won’t apply to your unique situation but I can tell you that they were invaluable.  One example is that we asked all 20 people to invite all their Facebook friends to like our page.  Not everyone did and not everyone invited all their friends but we had a bunch of likes already when we started marketing to complete strangers, which helped us seem more legit (which we were).

It’s been over 6 years since that committee got together and helped us get started.  Yet, we’re still in touch with many of them.  We wouldn’t be where we are without them.  The lives we’ve impacted wouldn’t have benefited.  Those 20 people made the difference they were seeking to make.

Building Your Support Community

I firmly believe that everyone needs a support community and it should include mentors/coaches, peers, and mentees.  You need to be poured into like a mentor or coach would.  You need the camaraderie of peers who balance you out and fill in your weaknesses.  You need people to pour into.  Sometimes you only fully understand something when you teach it to someone else.

Here’s a fun strategy for maintaining all these relationships: Some successful entrepreneurs I know would never do anything alone.  When they drove somewhere – even the grocery store – they had someone in the passenger seat.  When they walked down the street, there was usually someone walking with them.

Now that’s a little extreme but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a step in that direction.  What are you currently doing all by yourself that you could engage others in doing?  When people want to meet with you, how can you make it a meeting that also accomplishes something tangible?  You can even start with a simple “walk and talk” to get your blood flowing.

Post Script

p.s. I’m intentionally sharing ideas that involve in-person interaction.  Sure, you could any and all of this through video, phone, email, or whatever your preferred online method is.  In my experience, nothing tops in-person interaction so try your best to get some of that going too!  You are a social entrepreneur so you probably already love in-person interaction.  Don’t ever forsake it.