Five tips for becoming a social entrepreneur in 2018

Investigate business incubators and be prepared to embrace constant change are among Zack Rosenberg‘s top tips.

TOMS Shoes
Blake Mycoskie, founder, and chief shoe giver, TOM Shoes. Photograph: Scott Melcer/WireImage

But how to know if your idea for a social venture is a good one or if you are the right person to make it happen? Sometimes that realisation comes unexpectedly. My turning point took place in a meeting between a large global corporation and a social media executive. They were discussing ways to capitalise on the loopholes that helped them avoid paying taxes and pour profits into another business venture. I knew then that I could no longer devote my time and energy to furthering their cause. I was determined to develop a business model that could generate profits but also make a difference in the world. That was the start ofDoGoodBuyUs.

If you have an idea or philosophy about creating a for-profit business where you can do well and do good, here are five important tips to get you headed in the right direction:

1) Three approaches to building a platform
Unlike a traditional business that is structured solely for profit, social entrepreneurs can choose one of these three methods for integrating giving back into their business: a) donate a percentage of company profits b) affiliate with a cause, community, and/or charity and develop a product or service that will raise money and c) fundraise and share in the upside.

2) Understand the role of benefit corporations and business incubators
In the past few years, numerous organisations have developed to help make social entrepreneurship more accessible and successful. They can be a source of financial support as well as provide mentorship and guidance. Incubators such as the Unreasonable Institute, Civic Ventures, Conscious Labs, and hundreds of others are springing up. Investigate and make yourself known.

3) Dream big, but start small
Every entrepreneur (social or not) hopes to see their idea prosper into a successful venture, but patience is a virtue. A new business needs time and space to evolve and grow. The key is to start by building a solid foundation through developing smaller, more manageable partnerships and then learn what works or doesn’t. In other words, partner with organisations that match your scale. Nobody is too small at the start.

4) Don’t lose sight of your mission
If I make a business decision strictly for the profit potential, it often fails. If I take the mission and our passion into consideration, I stay on the path and attract the right programs, partners, and publications.

5) Don’t be deterred by constant change
It is rare to find your unique selling proposition right away. It takes time for your business ideas and goals to evolve and for things to fall into place. For the two and a half years since we have been in business, we have tried seven different business models until we found the right direction. Clarity takes time, but it’s worth the wait.

It’s a new year and a great time to pursue your dream of being a social entrepreneur.

Zack Rosenberg is a social entrepreneur and co-founder of DoGoodBuyUs.

This article was first published here.