When forming a blueprint for a social entrepreneurship, it becomes strikingly clear how much unforeseen work is involved. While many individuals have great ideas that could happen, few are able to take such ideas and put them to use. Running a successful entrepreneurship typically involves extensive marketing, financial planning, information technology, logistics, human resources, and management. Few individuals are experts in each of these areas. When the realization comes as to how much is involved in the process, one may begin to wonder: how does anyone do it?
The full answer to this question is complex and can require years of research to fully understand. However, the underlying concept is quite simple. Successful social entrepreneurs are driven by the purpose behind their work.
As Simon Sinek points out in his speech, “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action,” almost all workers and organizations know what they do. Some individuals can explain how they do it. Few individuals continually think about why they do what they do.
For example, an individual who works in a customer-service oriented organization typically understands that he or she is expected to treat customers kindly. Some individuals know how to do this and those who are diligent will do so most of the time because it is their job. Yet, at times, these individuals complain about customers and, when asked how they handle difficulties, reply with something such as, “just put a smile on your face and work through it.” While this sounds acceptable on the surface, it is an undeveloped response to a fairly simple question. An individual who understands that customers are the purpose of his or her work and not a disturbance to it would explain that he or she rarely has difficulties with customers, and instead finds it difficult not to thank each one of them for allowing him or her to have a job.
This may seem like a simple illustration, but the point is that the best workers are those who focus on the purpose behind why they do what they do. As a social entrepreneur, many challenges, both foreseen and unforeseen, will arise. The path, however clear it may seem to begin with, will only remain clear for a short period of time. To drive through these obstacles, social entrepreneurs must remember why they became involved to begin with and have a strong dedication and passion for reaching their goals. When working through the processes and people involved, everything must relate back to the organization’s purpose. Marketing and financial efforts, operations, technology, and human resources may involve a particular purpose for each department or committee, but should also be geared towards the purpose of the entire organization. Furthermore, each individual worker should have rewards linked to organizational success, rather than individual success. Every task that is done, every individual hired, and every decision that is made must be centered on “why” the social entrepreneurship exists.
In the movie Hugo, a story about a 12-year-old orphaned boy whose deceased father was a clockmaker, the young boy provided wisdom beyond his years with a simple, yet astonishing line regarding clocks. In it, he said “Everything has a purpose—even machines. When a machine is broken, it can’t do what it was made to do. Maybe it’s the same with people. When we lose our purpose, it’s like we’re broken.”
When pressures come to you as an aspiring social entrepreneur, remember to ask yourself, “What is my purpose?”
Sinek’s speech can be found here: