So you’re passionate about a cause and want to parlay it into a sustainable business that not only makes an impact on the cause, but also your bottom line.
It’s easier said than done; the challenge is to balance social responsibility with fiscal responsibility. It’s both easy and dangerous to go down a rabbit hole with your passion and suddenly one day find that your business is bleeding red ink.
Social Philanthropic Entrepreneurs need to give careful consideration as to the products and service they are going to offer.
Here are a few questions to consider:
Does the company have a solid business plan?
Has the business plan been vetted by trusted professionals who are supportive of the cause?
Has the business plan been vetted by professionals who aren’t part of the cause?
What are special needs that are specific to your cause that you can address without becoming overwhelmed by the enormity of your cause?
The first question is pretty self-explanatory, as well as the second question; the third question allows for objectivity that you or those within your inner circle may not have at the present moment.
The fourth question requires some soul searching: if you want to get involved in a specific cause, realize that you don’t have to take on the entire cause. Larger causes can be overwhelming, especially for start-ups! Start off with a subset of the cause you’re most familiar with – develop it, and then branch out from there.
Another area where balance is essential is in the area of marketing. Businesses with a social conscience need to treat marketing as a vehicle for education regarding the issue. That being said, it’s important to keep things in check and ensure that your marketing efforts don’t come off as being too preachy. You want to enroll people in your cause – nothing will turn off a potential customer and potential partner faster than being lectured to.
As your business grows, don’t be afraid to expand your vision, and be ready to create a business that will outlast you long before you’re gone.
Finally, know that you will never know how many lives you will inspire and change; what you do can create a ripple effect that will touch many generations to come. Not only that, you may be unknowingly planting seeds that others can grow and expand upon.
Go out and make a difference. Be true to your vision, but temper it with financial responsibility.