Every social enterprise begins with a great social entrepreneurship idea, but sometimes translating these ideas into an effective social business can be complicated.
Drive and passion are important elements to success, and every social entrepreneur should start with an issue they feel passionately about. That’s because it will take huge dedication to the issue to overcome all the obstacles on the road to a successful social enterprise.
Once you have identified an issue, the next step is to develop a strategic plan to solve it. While your initial plan will be a rough draft, it will serve as your foundation to build on. During the planning process, it can be helpful to consult with others who share your passion since they can offer valuable insight and ideas.
You want to get something substantial down on paper that can summarize your idea to potential collaborators. Universities can also help to create, sustain and develop new social entrepreneurship ideas by creating learning environments that successfully combine theory and practice. The can create conditions which support students interested in becoming social entrepreneurs to study, create and develop social enterprises by helping them flesh out their ideas and providing them with inspiration from the field.
This approach is somewhat of a departure for university education in general, which tends to focus more on theory rather than practical application of ideas. Some of the best universities have been actively pursuing this approach to teaching social entrepreneurship by challenging their students to create, develop and lead innovative projects for real social enterprise operations on a global and local level.
The idea of social entrepreneurship has evolved over the years, and it makes sense for anyone interested in the field to learn something about the history of its development. The earliest examples of social entrepreneurship were not recognized at the time as part of a coherent movement. In the UK it wasn’t until 1994 that social entrepreneurship began to be seriously discussed as something that should be encouraged by government policy, and at that time there were only a few individual advocating on behalf of the idea.
When the New Labor government was elected in 1997, it marked a turning point politically speaking for the social enterprise concept, as it was an idea that found favor with Tony Blair. It was a perfect answer to the dissatisfaction with the self interest promoted in the 1980s. Of course, social entrepreneurship at its best does feature a heavy dose of business common sense in the mix. When you are translating a great social enterprise idea into practice, budget concerns often matter as much as mission.
Social entrepreneurs frequently find themselves in the difficult position of deciding between making key decisions based on mission or budget. Because social enterprises must ultimately operate as businesses in the broader context of global commerce, it’s important that their managers understand the business world and how it impacts them.
In general, it can be a wise decision for social entrepreneurs to get away from the model of financial dependence on outside partners. This will move them away from a focus on managing budgets to a focus on creating a sustainable organization and motivating people in the spirit of a true entrepreneur.