Small is Beautiful for Social Enterprise: Lessons from Richard Branson

Fairy Dust.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Neal.

Yesterday I proposed that you should start small with your social enterprise. By no means do I suggest that you should stay small or think small.

Ways to Duplicate a Small Enterprise Tenfold or More

Rather, I propose that you become successful in one model that actually works. Once you develop a prototype or pilot that is feasible, you can then mimic the idea through a variety of business methods, including licensing, franchising, expansion, and training.

Richard Branson and the Creation of 400 Enterprises

I recently finished reading Richard Branson’s autobiography entitled Losing My Virginity: How I’ve Survived, Had Fun, And Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way.

Branson is a British entrepreneur and famous worldwide for his Virgin Group which comprises of over 400 companies! I must admit that his ability to run 400 companies via his Virgin Group is astounding. I suggest that there is something that we can learn from his business success.

Humanitarian Initiatives by Branson

In addition, Branson’s been involved in a number of humanitarian initiatives including starting up the Elders – a “small, dedicated group of world leaders, working objectively and without any vested personal interest to solve difficult global conflicts.”

Some of the world leaders that have been a part of the Elders include Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel, Kofi Annan, Ela Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Li Zhaoxing, Mary Robinson, and Muhammad Yunus.

Start Ups Should Start Small

Richard Branson is famous for starting up numerous enterprises in his lifetime. In Branson’s autobiography, he concludes by giving some tips about how he himself built his group of companies. He suggests to aspiring entrepreneurs that: “Small is Beautiful.”

You can’t expect to have 400 thriving enterprises overnight. You should start with one.

Systemization and Duplication for Social Enterprises

Know the enterprise through and through. Work with a small team at first. Then systemize the venture and duplicate it. Duplicate the workable system again and again and again.

I think that these tips are worthwhile for both for profit entrepreneurs and non profit social innovators.