What Social Impact Do You Want To Have Through Your Business?
The term ‘social entrepreneur’ is being used increasingly but I sometimes wonder whether those described in this way are really putting social impact at the heart of their business.
Or whether ‘social entrepreneurship’ has become a marketing term used to attract the cluster of business owners and entrepreneurs who are driven by the desire to make a difference in the world, but who structure their business primarily to make money for themselves.
In the traditional sense, a social entrepreneur was someone who set up a social enterprise – a business set up for social impact and where there are restrictions on how income, capital and assets are distributed. To ensure accumulated resources are used for the social purpose of the organisation, rather than to fund excessive personal wealth. Muhammad Yunus from Grameen Bank, Paul Forkman from Gandi’s Flip Flops and Blake Mycoskie from Toms Shoes are examples of who I think of as traditional social entrepreneurs in the true sense of the term.
Yet I’m sure many of those who perceive themselves as social entrepreneurs today are not running businesses set up in this way. Then add successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Bill Gates and Nick Ortner who are doing good in the world through charitable foundations they run alongside commercial businesses.
To me there is no right or wrong way for a socially conscious business owner or entrepreneur to do business. It’s personal choice and there are lots of business models that can be highly successful in terms of financial profit AND social impact.
However what is important if you want to make a difference in the world, is be clear on what this means to you, and how you’ll achieve this through your business. As much as how you communicate your vision to others.
I was at a great networking event recently for social enterprises that took place at a fantastic local tourist attraction. The management team of the venue (Foxlake Adventures) did a great presentation on how their business has evolved, the emphasis they’ve always had on financial sustainability and the way in which they measure the social impact of the business. Their talk (together with other really interesting conversations that morning) got me thinking again about the social impact I’d like to have.
While I’ve raised over US$25,000 and supported various social causes through my business (as well as teaching others how to do the same) I know there’s more I’d love to do. It feels like there’s still something missing in the way I’m doing business.
So over the summer I’ll be taking time to re-evaluate the social impact I’d like to have and how I can re-align my business activities to this. The type of things I’ll be asking myself include:
- Who specifically would I like to help?
- How many lives would I like to touch?
- What is the best way for me to do this?
- How could I better support social causes across all aspects of my business e.g. in my product/service offering, marketing, operations etc.?
I don’t know how this will unfold yet, but I’m excited about the prospects ahead.
What social impact would you like to have through your business?
I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts – please do share your comments below.
Alisoun Mackenzie is The Compassionate Business Mentor, Author, and Speaker who inspires business owners and social entrepreneurs to turn their passions into profits and make a difference in the world.
She is also the author of two Amazon Best Selling books Heartatude, The 9 Principles of Heart-Centered Success and Give to Profit: How to Grow Your Business by Supporting Charities Social Causes.
Alisoun is also the founder of The Heartabiz Hub a business network and training academy and has written the following free ebooks:
- The 9 Secrets to Signing Up Clients Without Selling (click here)
- 101 Ways To Attract Great Clients, With Heart, Integrity & Social Impact (click here)
- 52 Ways to Raise Funds for Charities and Social Causes Through Your Business (click here)
You can connect with Alisoun here:
- Alisoun’s website – www.alisoun.com
- Alisoun Mackenzie Facebook Fanpage (for tips on authentic living and business mastery) – click HERE
- The Heartabiz Hub Facebook Fanpage (for details about our courses and events) – click HERE
- Give To Profit Facebook Fanpage (tips on supporting charities and social causes) – click HERE