It begins with understanding yourself and the social needs around you. People often wonder where to apply their energy. They want to know whether to become a social entrepreneur or just join an organization, or what issues to focus on. Finding the answers to these questions depends on personal considerations that are different for each person: What do you care deeply about? What situations bring out your natural gifts? Are you comfortable with uncertainty? Do you have a strong need for independence?
Thanks to the many roles opening up in the field, there’s probably a role to fit your temperament. Fewer than 10% of Canadian workers are self-employed. Most people prefer to work in established structures, but that doesn’t mean they have to accept those structures as they are. Many promote change from within businesses and public institutions.
How to get started in social entrepreneurship
Some thoughts on how to get started in social entrepreneurship, adapted from David Bornstein and Susan Davis’ Social Entrepreneurship: What You Need to Know.
Begin with an end in mind.
Do what you do best.
Have people ask you questions about your idea.
Practice pitching your idea.
Study the history of the problem you are attacking.
Develop a theory of change.
Keep thinking about how you can measure or evaluate success.
Celebrate every victory, no matter how small.
Initiate new relationships.
Apprentice yourself with masters (work without pay if necessary).
Volunteer for a political or social campaign.
Publish a letter to the editor or an opinion editorial (op-ed).
Meet with a newspaper editor and your local MLA/MPP/MNA/MHA.
Host dinner discussions about your idea.
Form a group to achieve a modest, short-term goal.
Ask a question at a public forum.
Engage people with opposing political views (respectfully, of course).
Ask for advice from people you admire.
Read biographies of people who have built things.
Spend some time working in a different sector, field or country.
Practice public speaking.
Take a finance course.
Learn how to negotiate.
Find sources of inspiration and use them.
Hold to principles, be flexible about methods.
Learn about trends in shifting mindsets.
At GoForth, we’ve combined our love of entrepreneurship and our love of people to create several “close to the heart” social entrepreneurship projects. We’ve witnessed firsthand the power and joy of social change and raising others up. To us, social entrepreneurship is legacy work, making positive change in the lives of others.
At GoForth, we know that many entrepreneurs take a few tries to find a small business idea that sticks – nearly half of all small businesses opened in Canada each year don’t make it to their fifth birthday.
However, that doesn’t mean that failure is necessarily a bad thing. Failure in some form is experienced by all entrepreneurs at some point. It may be a fairly minor setback, or it may be a more major situation.
It’s Canada 150, and we’re excited to announce our 150th education partner! EDAC (Economic Developers Association of Canada) is Canada’s national organization of economic developers. EDAC offers its members professional development, networking opportunities and a comprehensive offering of resources.
In addition, EDAC also offers the Certified Economic Developer designation, Ec.D., which signifies an economic development professional has the tools and experience necessary to analyze regional problems, provide advisory or consulting services to the public and private sectors, and plan development strategies.
At GoForth, we’re proud of each and every entrepreneur that has helped to make Canada successful, and our extensive network of partners are equally committed to helping Canadian small business succeed through education.
At GoForth Institute, we’re proud to partner with nearly 100 great organizations across Canada that offer our training to their clients. Our comprehensive small business training offers fully Canadian content that’s customizable to the unique needs and market of each partner’s business environment.
One of the main reasons we have a hobby is because we love it, whether it’s gardening, restoring antiques, weightlifting, or pottery making. That can mean we’re passionate about it. And passion is one of the elements of psychological capital needed to run a successful business — why spend your time on a business you don’t like? It’s a pretty safe bet that you also know quite a lot about your hobby, which will be an advantage if you choose to make a small business out of it.
Considerations about hobby-based small businesses
Passion is fantastic, but turning passion into profit takes serious work, and a serious understanding of how to run a business. You may know a lot about your hobby, but you know it from a hobbyist’s point of view, not an entrepreneur’s. You may be able to compose, shoot and develop the perfect photograph, but can you source suppliers? Negotiate contracts? Find tax breaks? Ask yourself if you’ll still enjoy your hobby once the more stressful everyday components of entrepreneurship are mixed in.
Entrepreneurship is a lot of work, and starting a small business doing something you already enjoy is a huge motivator in getting up every morning and doing all that hard work. You can turn your hobby into a small business, but make sure that you have a good foundation of small business knowledge and skills too – that’ll help turn your great business idea into a successful business.