Change Creator sat down with Rick Alexander, the Head of Legal Policy at B Lab who is also an expert in Corporate Governance and Benefit Corporations; Author and Speaker on Governance Topics.
B Lab is a non profit organization dedicated to helping corporations and business owners shift their focus from profits to the impact that they have on their community as well as the planet.
This interview led us through the process of becoming a more socially-conscious business owner and being the change needed to redefine the way that the world conducts business.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about what it takes to make this change, here are the top 10 key takeaways and lessons that we received while speaking with Rick.
1) The Issue for Aspiring Social Entrepreneurs Lies in the Current Business Infrastructure
“We think that the current infrastructure much more encourages companies to put profit above purpose,” Rick told us early on in the interview.
The issue with the current business structure is that there is a heavy emphasis on the financial bottom line for business owners. The legal systems that are currently in place for businesses prioritize profit over societal impacts and also make it difficult for already established corporations to turn their attention over to these areas of focus.
Therefore, in order to change the way that we do business and to make it easier for corporations to focus on social good, we need to change the systems that we have in place.
2) Change Begins With the Legal System and Our Bottom Lines
At the moment, business is almost entirely focused on earning and infinite growth.
Our legal system encourages owners of corporations to set their sights on making more money while not putting equal importance on the ability of a company to make an impact on the world around them.
While capital is certainly an important part of running a business, purpose and impact should be a main focus as well.
How do we change the system so that we focus on all of these aspects? To make this change, we need to implement tools that make it so that the legal systems recognize the importance of focusing on profit, economic impact, and social impact.
3) What a Benefit Corporation Is
Simply put, a benefit corporation is a type of corporate entity that deviates from the normal profit-driven model and instead seeks to benefit all of those working within the company as well as the outside world.
In addition, benefit corporations are also focused on being more transparent and accountable when it comes to their business operations.
4) A Benefit Corporation Is Still a C Corp (With Some Minor Differences)
A C Corp is a term that refers to a tax status given by the U.S. government to corporate entities that are taxed separately from their owners. Although it may seem as though a benefit corporation would differ from this structure, a benefit corporation is still a C Corp. The only difference between the two is that a benefit corporation explicitly states their intent to focus on profit as well as their impact within and outside of their company.
5) It All Starts With a Provision
There are no special types of qualifications that a potential corporation needs to meet in order to become a benefit corporation. A corporation that wants to become a benefit corporation need not change anything about the traditional structure. All a socially conscious business owner needs to do in order to form a benefit corporation is to add a provision that states its intention to be a socially responsible benefit corporation. They are still technically a traditional corporation, however.
6) Not All Lawyers Are Knowledgeable Or Aware About Benefit Corporations
The term “benefit corporation” is a rather new term and is not known amongst all law practitioners. This can make it difficult for entrepreneurs who want to form a benefit corporation if they decide to seek help from a lawyer who is not well-versed in social entrepreneurship. “I think it’s important for these younger entrepreneurs to make sure they’re talking to the right people,” our founder Adam Force advises, “just because someone has a big resume doesn’t mean their knowledgeable in these new, upcoming approaches.”
Rick builds upon this piece advice by telling us that some law firms are skeptical about benefit corporations and will actually advise against forming these structures rather than helping them do it.
7) The Differences Between Running a Socially-Conscious LLC and a Benefit Corporation
For beginning entrepreneurs and for those who are running a small business, an LLC is the way to go according to Rick. LLC’s are much simpler to run and have less tax implications than a corporation.
Once an entrepreneur begins raising capital and expanding, their attention should turn their attention to building a corporation. However, both can be successfully run with a socially conscious structure. B Lab gives both LLC’s and corporation’s the advice and language necessary to turn their business from one based on profit into one based on both profit and impact.
8) Altering Business Operations Means Altering Our Way of Thinking
If you approach anyone in business and begin talking to them about a business structure that may not make as much money but will make more impact, it is extremely likely that they will not take you seriously. In business, money is often the meter of success, not impact. In order to change the way that people conduct business, we need to alter first the way of thinking.
This is exactly what Rick seeks to achieve through his work at B Lab. Only through a better understanding of how impact can make a difference in business will people be able to choose change over profits.
9) The Impact Assessment Tool
The B Impact Assessment Tool is a tool that entrepreneurs can use to understand what it takes to be a socially responsible company. The tool takes entrepreneurs through an assessment that will determine their current social and environmental impact, gives them a comparison with thousands of other companies to see which areas they are struggling in and which they are excelling in, and helps them determine what they can do to improve their impact.
10) Rick’s Book, Benefit Corporation Law and Governance: Pursuing Profit With Purpose
Rick’s new book, Benefit Corporation Law and Governance: Pursuing Profit With Purpose, serves as a reminder to readers that it is important for business owners to focus on impact in order to improve the world around us and helps walk them through the process of using benefit corporations as a tool for social good. You can learn more about his book here.
Are you interested in forming your own benefit corporation? Are you an LLC owner who is trying to have a bigger impact on the world around you? If so, you can hear the full interview with Rick Alexander here and you can learn more about B Lab and their mission on their website.
What is a social entrepreneur? When I think of these words, I visualize the people who seek to create solutions to widespread social issues such as poverty, famine, and a lack of education. They pour themselves into their business and into the people that they are trying to serve. They aren’t just entrepreneurs, they are business people seeking to make a difference in the world.
Unfortunately, we have come to equate the term “social entrepreneur” with “ineffective” or “unprofitable business”. However, social entrepreneurs are no different from everyday entrepreneurs in the way that they conduct business or turn profits. To give you an idea of how social entrepreneurship is still entrepreneurship, here are 8 famous social entrepreneurs that you may have heard of:
1) Bill Drayton
When it comes to social entrepreneurs, Bill Drayton could be considered the man responsible for bringing social entrepreneurship into mainstream society.
In 1980, Drayton established the non-profit organization known as Ashoka. This organization identifies, enlists, and supports major social entrepreneurs in order to create a worldwide team of “changemakers” who can help instill empathy in everyone, lead the young in a socially conscious direction, and break barriers in society. According to the organization’s website, “Ashoka’s impact is both multifaceted and far-reaching, spanning many levels of change in many nations across the globe.”
In fact, a study conducted by Ashoka in 2013 found that 87 percent of social entrepreneurs felt that the organization helped to increase their impact and 49 percent stated that the organization made a critical difference to their work.
Along with the formation of this organization, Drayton has other notable achievements such as forming Yale Legislative Services at Yale Law School, holding a chair position at the job creation organization known as Get America Working!, and receiving one of the earlier “genius grants” from the MacArthur Fellows Program.
2) Blake Mycoskie
While Blake Mycoskie may not be a name you are familiar with, the company name TOMSwill certainly ring a bell.
Born out of a trip to Argentina where he witnessed the issues children without shoes were facing, Mycoskie formed TOMS with the intention of donating a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that was purchased from his company. Over the years, the company has expanded to areas such as eyewear, water, safe births, and anti-bullying programs. To date, Tom’s has managed to donate over 60 million pairs of shoes, restore eyesight to over 400,000 people, and give over 335,000 weeks of safe water.
TOMS owes its extreme success to the many businesses that Mycoskie ran prior to forming the company. Since the first laundromat business that he created to serve the college he attended, he launched four other business which includes an outdoor billboard company, a cable network, an online driver’s education service, and a marketing firm.
Another name commonly associated with social entrepreneurship is Muhammad Yunus.
Armed with the belief that the poor should have access to basic banking services and a fierce desire to see his vision through, Yunus established the Grameen Bank in the country of Bangladesh in 1983. What the Grameen Bank set out to do was to provide small loans to those living in poverty so that they would be able to become financially self-sufficient. Rather than operating like most banks or lenders, the Grameen Bank requires no collateral from its borrowers.
Although this may seem like a fatal business flaw, the Grameen Bank is thriving and so are its borrowers. Of the bank’s borrowers, over 97 percent are women and these women pay their loans back at a rate of 97 percent. The Grameen Bank has managed to bring in a net income of $10 million and because of its success, Yunus has received the Nobel Prize, among other awards.
4) Jeffrey Hollender
Jeffrey Hollender and his company Seventh Generation are perfect examples of corporate social responsibility and how much a socially responsible company can grow.
Jeffrey Hollender founded Seventh Generation, a company specializing in the production of eco-friendly household cleaning products and personal hygiene products, in the late 80’s. Along with developing products that were free of harsh chemicals, the company also decided to donate 10 percent of its profits to non-profit organizations and businesses that are dedicated to social and environmental causes.
Hollender’s company was built on morals and systems that were perceived to be unprofitable and limiting. In the year 2010 alone, however, Seventh Generation brought in over $150 million in revenue. The company is even backed by comedian Maya Rudolph.
Although Hollender no longer has a role in the company, he still continues to speak out about corporate social responsibility, write books about social entrepreneurship, and serve on boards such as Greenpeace US.
5) Jacqueline Novogratz
Jacqueline Novogratz is one of the few social entrepreneurs who has successfully managed to integrate traditional investment methods with entrepreneurial investment techniques.
Novogratz created her company Acumen in 2001 with the help of funding provided by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Cisco Systems Foundation, and several other philanthropists. Acumen, which was previously named the Acumen Fund, uses patient, or long-term capital to helps fund businesses who have a focus on providing solutions to social issues.
While most banks and other lenders invest money in businesses and expect immediate profits from the borrower, Acumen provides funds and expects to start receiving returns when the business has had time to build itself. In Acumen’s case, this expected timeframe for these returns is around seven to ten years. In 2014, it was estimated that Acumen had provided over $110 million in funding to businesses.
Besides this successful company, Novogratz has worked for the World Bank, helped found a microfinance institution in Rwanda, and wrote a New York Times Bestseller called The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World.
6) Tom Szaky
Out of all the individuals who have wanted to make a difference in the world, Tom Szaky seemed to be least likely to achieve success as a social entrepreneur.
After dropping out of Princeton University, Szaky used investment money provided by venture capitalist Suman Sinha to start selling his own homemade fertilizer out of the back of his car. In order to build his business, Szaky took his worm waste fertilizer to major business such as Walmart and Home Depot, where he was able to convince them to sell fliers. Little did he know that this small business venture would soon turn into a multi-million dollar company known as TerraCycle.
Once Szaky realized the impact that his company could have on other areas of waste, TerraCycle began taking on things such as recycling and repurposing used objects that are often difficult to recycle, providing waste solutions to municipalities, and providing solutions for industrial waste. Along with its environmental focus, Szaky designed TerraCycle to donate two cents to charity for each waste object that it recycled.
TerraCycle has already raised over $3.2 million.
7) Scott Harrison
Scott Harrison has become one of the most successful social entrepreneurs through his non-profit organization known as charity: water.
Charity: water began after Harrison decided that he was spiritually unsatisfied and made a journey to West Africa with an organization called Mercy Ships. He was humbled by the experience and his time spent him Liberia taught him that he wanted to dedicate his life to charity.
According to the organization’s website, charity: water has already funded around 25,000 water projects, will provide fresh water to over 7 million people, and is currently operating in 24 countries. Unlike many other socially conscious businesses, Harrison uses all of the profits to fund future and current water projects. Although this is typically seen as a business plan that is fatal to most ventures, he has managed to be extremely successful and continues to inspire other social entrepreneurs.
8) Willie Smits
Willie Smits, a former microbiologist working in Indonesia, never intended on becoming a social entrepreneur.
It wasn’t until he had an encounter in Indonesia with a baby Orangutan who was left to die in a trash heap that he decided he needed to change the world. This Orangutan, which he named Uce, sparked the beginnings of what would become the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation, a foundation dedicated to helping abandoned apes that were at risk for being harmed.
Along with helping Orangutans and other apes, Smits’ foundation also helps to teach local people the importance of sustainable farming methods, reforestation, and preserving the forest areas that already exist. Smits also has a hand in the Masarang Foundation and has received significant awards such as the title of knighthood in the Netherlands and a fellowship from the Ashoka Foundation.
Famous Social Entrepreneurs: Yes! You Can Be Next!
Social entrepreneurship doesn’t mean that you run a business that’s less effective or less profitable. Overall, social entrepreneurship is a type of business that allows you to reap a spiritual reward along with your profits and your impact. As demonstrated by the 8 examples above, social entrepreneurship can be as impactful, if not even more impactful, than a regular business plan. If you plan on becoming a social entrepreneur, learn from the wise people above and take comfort in knowing that you can one day join them in their ranks.
Today the KIND Foundation announces its biggest bet yet — a $20MM multi-year commitment to connect one million students through an initiative called Empatico! The name, which connotes empathy, underscores the importance of the so-called “soft skills,” which are increasingly critical to success in a divided country and interconnected world.
We are so proud of the work the KIND Foundation is doing to create the next generation of social entrepreneurs, we had to talk to the director of the KIND Foundation, Dana Rosenberg. Learn more from our interview here:
Listen to our interview with KIND Foundation Director, Dana Rosenberg
In 2016, The KIND Foundation was formed in order to help KIND Snacks further their efforts to make the world a kinder place. Through the foundation, they have been able to fund projects that implement systems of kindness in schools, recognize and support those who have performed extraordinary acts of kindness, and award grants to organizations who are attempting to make a difference in their community.
We were lucky enough to be able to interview the director of the KIND Foundation, Dana Rosenberg, in our Change Creator Podcast where we discussed the origins of the KIND Foundation, their current initiatives, and what they’ve done to help the social entrepreneur community.
What is the KIND Foundation?
“The KIND Foundation was established by KIND Healthy Snacks in the beginning of 2016. Through our foundation, our mission has always been to foster kinder and more empathetic communities,” Dana tells us. “You might be familiar with KIND Snacks as the meter of healthy, nutritious snack options but what you might not know is that we were also founded with the mission to inspire and spread kindness. Furthering that value of being kind has been part of our efforts since day one.”
What is the KIND Schools Challenge and how did it form?
Dana knew that once the foundation was established, they needed to find ways in which they could engage with their community and help them further the belief that it was necessary to foster kindness and connect with each other.
“We were introduced to Rick Weissbourd who is the head of Making Caring Common, a program of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, and were really blown away by the work that they were doing there. As we got to know them, we established the first KIND Schools Challenge.”
The first KIND Schools Challenge was launched in Making Caring Common schools last year with the intent to help schools and students create change within their own community. It was extremely successful and financial support was given to a school in Jacksonville, where three students created a program that helped other students realize that they were more connected than they initially believed.
“Based on that experience, we teamed up with Harvard once again and we are so thrilled. Applications are now open for this year’s KIND Schools Challenge,” she announced. “The big difference this year is that we are no longer limiting it to the Making Caring Common network. We are opening this up nationally. Any middle school and high school in America can take part. All they need to do is form a team of 3 to 5 students, find a teacher adviser, and address a challenge that they are facing.”
Those who win the KIND Schools Challenge this year will be receiving a small stipend to launch the program and expert advice from a team at Harvard so that they can better shape their community into a kinder place.
What are you trying to achieve through your projects?
“For us, I think this is really making kindness more top of mind and reinforcing it as a value that we should all continue to prioritize and think about as we go on with our daily lives. For us, kindness calls on us to treat each other with respect, compassion, and empathy. It means taking that effort to listen and get to know people that you might not otherwise get to know. It goes well beyond this program. We hope that it is a mindset that people continue to prioritize and celebrate in their own lives.”
Kindness Gives Students a New Kind of Platform!
Teaming up with leading technologists (including the former CTO of Kickstarter) and global education experts to incubate the online learning tool, KIND Foundation has created a whole new way to connect students. Through seamless video conferencing technology and standards-based activities, an 8-year-old in India can now explore what life is like for an 8-year-old in Arkansas. Perhaps more important given the state of affairs in our country, that same kid in Arkansas can meaningfully interact with his or her Brooklyn peers.
Daniel, the Founder & CEO of KIND snacks conceived this idea more than a decade ago (they have the 4 am emails to prove it!) after doing work in the Middle East and realizing the importance of giving people a platform to share their stories.
Will you be expanding your efforts at the university level to help address the importance of social entrepreneurship?
“Right now, we’re evaluating all different points of a young person’s journey until they enter the workforce. For us, our next step is going to be that third and fourth grade age range. We think it’s a really interesting opportunity in terms of the development of a child and their ability to accept and understand different viewpoints. However, we’re also exploring those older age groups as well.”
She goes on to discuss the free social entrepreneurship summit that the KIND Foundation hosted last year where interested entrepreneurs could learn about how to make money while building their own business that was socially conscious. All of the KIND staff took the day off to help entrepreneurs with different areas of business and they were able to speak with successful members of the entrepreneur community such as Arianna Huffington and CEO of KIND, Daniel Lewbetzky.
“It was really an incredible day and an opportunity to give back to our own history. KIND is really proud to be a business with a social purpose and a chance to really encourage that next generation of social entrepreneurs. We need more people who are thinking about, how do I create a great business but also have an impact at the same time?”
She also tells us that working on social entrepreneurship is not an area that they are currently focusing on but that it will be in the future.
What should people be doing to support the mission of spreading kindness?
“Submission for projects to be a part of the (KIND Schools) challenge closes on October 25th. I just encourage as many people across the country to get involved, to think of an idea, and to submit it and to really make an effort to make their schools kinder and more caring. The other thing is, in terms of your social entrepreneurs, I encourage them to look at the KIND Schools Challenge toolkit that came out of last year. These tips and tricks that we’re giving to middle school and high schoolers can be applied to social entrepreneurs to make this a part of your daily life.”
How to Spread Kindness in Your Communities – Key Takeaways:
Make a real effort to learn from others. Many of the people in your community have gone through situations that you have gone through as well. Make an effort to learn about the lives of others and you will be better suited to empathize, connect, and show them kindness.
Incorporate kindness into your daily life. Find ways that you express kindness to people daily and turn kindness into a habit.
Get involved. Look for programs and organizations in your community who are trying to make a difference and get involved. Major changes begin with individuals like you!
Kindness needs a bigger platform in this world! How will you spread kindness and empathy today?
Think about opportunities to create a great business with impact!
You can find out more about the KIND Foundation and their initiatives through the links below:
Productivity: a seemingly simple word that manages to both excite and terrify the entrepreneur within us.
Over the years, there have been plenty of self-help gurus and business owners that have come forward with their own ideas on how to boost productivity. However, some ideas are more harmful than helpful and a lot of people are unable to differentiate the good from the bad. Instead of wasting your time devouring self-help books and scouring the internet for productivity courses, take a look at 5 of the best tips for boosting your productivity below.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
In the productivity world, technology is often advertised as the bane of one’s existence. While technology does have the potential to prevent you from getting work done, it also has the potential to increase your productivity.
One article on Ecopreneur explores several of the apps currently on the market that can help you improve your productivity, including:
Evernote: “Evernote manages everything from basic plaintext notes to rich text documents to images to entire web pages… Three of the handiest features are the ability to take a picture of a document with your device’s camera and store it as a note, which Evernote can then search within, the ability to record audio notes for either transcribing into text or for use as an audio recording, and the Shared Notebook feature, which allows you to collaborate with other members of your team. As a productivity app, Evernote is hard to beat.
HootSuite: “This social media management system makes it simple and effective to post to multiple social networks, including Twitter, Facebook (both personal pages and company pages), LinkedIn, and Google+, and it allows for collaboration with other team members.”
Carrot: “This somewhat aggressive to-do app helps motivate you to get stuff done by giving you feedback with an attitude. Carrot has a gesture-based interface, learns as you use it, and offers ‘rewards’ when you stay on track. This app, of all of those listed here, is probably the one most likely to be considered a productivity app exclusively, as it focuses solely on tasks and the completion of the tasks.”
Not every application will work for you, however. Make sure that you carefully research and test each app before you begin relying on it to boost your productivity.
Know Your Energy Schedule
Everyone has certain times throughout the day when they feel the most energized. For me, I feel the most energized in the mornings. At around 2:00 p.m., I begin to experience a lull that affects my productivity and prevents me from plowing through my tasks. Instead of fighting it and trying to accomplish one task for hours, I use this time to complete simple tasks that require minimal effort. The lull eventually wears off and I begin working on my important tasks again.
Figure out when you feel the most energized, focused, and motivated and schedule your important work around those times. For some people, this may not be possible. You may be a night owl who is currently working a 9-5 job. If this is the case for you and your energy isn’t highest during your working hours, find ways that you can boost your energy levels.
Some great ways to boost your energy include listening to motivational music, getting up and doing a brief exercise every 10 minutes or so, and drinking plenty of cold water. Only consider caffeine and supplements if you have tried alternative methods and they haven’t worked for you.
If you are a night owl, don’t let society’s normal schedule prevent you from doing work when you are capable of doing it best. An article in Foundr recently investigated the night owl lifestyle and provided several examples of famous night owls including Elon Musk, who goes to bed at 1:00 a.m. and wakes up at 7:00 a.m., Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, who goes to bed at 2:00 a.m. and wakes up at around 10:00 a.m., and Moz founder Rand Fishkin, who goes to bed between 1:30 a.m. and 2:00 a.m. and wakes up between 9:00 a.m. and 9:30 a.m.
Outsourcing is a blessing for many business owners. No matter what type of business you run, there are probably hundreds of tasks you do throughout the day that takes away from the time you need to complete major projects. Maybe you spend several hours a day marketing yourself and your product when you should be creating content for your product. Maybe you’re taking time out of your day to schedule appointments with clients instead of working with clients you already have.
Whatever it is that is preventing you from being truly productive, I can guarantee that there is someone or something out there that could be doing these tasks for you. The freelance market has experienced a dramatic change over the past few years and there is currently an abundance of professionals on the internet, waiting to take on work that business owners don’t have time for.
Although outsourcing has a stigma attached to it, there is a way that you can outsource your work while being socially conscious. Companies such as Samasource and Digital Divide Data take the work that you need to be done and outsource it to underdeveloped countries to provide those in need with employment.
The CEO of DDD, Michael Chertok, further explains this in an article in Huffington Post.
“Today, more than two dozen BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) firms in countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Ghana, Haiti, Kenya and Pakistan deliver services to clients performed by individuals from very disadvantaged backgrounds. In countries where the BPO industry is thriving, including India, the Philippines and the U.S.A., social entrepreneurs are bringing this model to small towns and villages in rural and remote areas to create employment and opportunity.”
Keep Your To-Do List Realistic
I can’t even begin to explain to you how many times I have packed my to-do list with nearly impossible tasks. If you know what I am talking about, then you understand the feeling that comes after you are unable to achieve everything that you set out to do. This daily feeling of “failure” leads you to believe that you are not capable of being a productive human being.
The problem, however, does not lie in your inability to tackle so many tasks at once. It lies in your inability to create a realistic to-do list. If you only have 8 hours to work and you’ve put over 10 large projects on your to-do list, you are setting yourself up for failure. Rather than going through this cycle, determine what you are able to do with the time that you have available.
Start by looking at your work and figuring out what needs to be done first. Organize your work in order of importance and start there. Once you’ve organized your work, schedule the most important tasks as soon as possible and place the items that you have time to do towards the end of your list or personal organizer. Take into consideration how much time you have to dedicate towards these projects and whether or not you will be able to finish each task on that given day.
Solène Pignet, CEO of Creators for Good, wrote a post on her blog a few years ago that explored the topic of social entrepreneurs and burnout. In it, she offered this helpful advice:
Plan – how much you want to work on a weekly basis, and stick to that
Schedule – your holidays and long weekends in advance. At least 6 times per year (yes! that often! You are not an employee; you need more rest than them to have enough energy!)
Be strategic – about the impact you want to have, the milestones you need to reach, and the selective actions you are going to take. And then, stick to it! Stop working quantitatively, and have a qualitative approach instead.
If you remain honest and organized, your productivity levels will begin to soar.
Sometimes, the best thing that you can do for yourself is to take a break and recharge. I know, it seems counterintuitive. However, think back to the last time that you attempted to do work when you were mentally exhausted or upset. Did you get any work done? If so, did you manage to produce the same quality of work that you would have if you were happy and well-rested? The answer to this is most likely no.
Jamie Green, a social entrepreneur who sells sleepwear and uses the proceeds to feed the homeless, creating homeless shelters, and generate employment, was recently featured in an article on Virgin where he commented on taking time to break away from his work:
“I spend 95 percent of my time behind a screen. If it’s not on my laptop creating pitch decks, answering emails and editing photos, it is spending time on my phone scrolling Instagram and reading the news – and to be honest it can take its toll on my mental health. I have different methods of dealing with this – I call them refocus days – and they might include going for a surf, cleaning the house or listening to a podcast while on a drive to get re-inspired.”
You can’t be productive if you have allowed your emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical health to suffer. If you need an entire day to recuperate, take a day off. If you only need a couple of hours, take a break from your work for a couple of hours. No matter how long it takes for you to recharge, you must take the time out of your day to do it or else your quality of work and your work output will continually suffer.
Do you need some ideas on how to practice self-care? Here are some suggestions that Forbes recommends for social entrepreneurs:
Set aside time during your day to meditate
Create a solid support system of people that you can go to when you feel overwhelmed with life and work
Start a journal that helps you to recognize symptoms and triggers of burnout
Productivity seems to be elusive to so many people because they believe it is an art or a science rather than what it is: a deep understanding of the self. Knowing what drives you, when you feel driven, and what helps you to tackle the world is productivity in a nutshell. With these 5 tips, you will be better able to understand yourself and become more productive.
Side hustles are great supplemental income opportunities that allow us to pursue our passions and talents outside of our everyday job. However, what happens when your side hustle proves itself to be profitable and becomes a potential full-time job? It can be a daunting task to turn your side hustle into your main job but it is possible. Many business owners that we know today have done exactly that. While we are not telling you to quit your day job just yet, if you truly believe in what you are doing, read this article!
If you believe that you want to turn your side hustle into a business, use the 5 expert tips below.
Begin Treating Your Side Hustle as a Business
Before you begin researching business plans and crafting your own, you will first have to determine whether or not you truly want to turn your hobby job into a full-time job or business. In order to do this, simply start treating your side hustle as if it already was a business.
Begin working longer hours, taking on more clients, and launching new projects. If you are unable to handle the increase in work for your side hustle or if you begin to lose the passion that you currently had for it, you will most likely not be able to handle it as a business. It’s better to leave it as it was than to pursue something that will end up failing down the road.
If you are able to handle the increase in work and you are thriving, however, then your side hustle may be a viable business. You will also have a better idea of what you will be doing when you turn your hobby into a full-time business. Of course, there’s more than just time and commitment to your idea that matters here. You need to plan ahead of time for success and learn from others who have done just as you want to do.
Take heed to a lesson here from Sophie Unwin, who runs a social enterprise that teaches people how to repair and recycle damaged household items known as Remade in Edinburgh, made this amazing statement about passion and business ideas:
“I’ve been thinking about the social enterprises that have sprung up around me, and why some succeed where others don’t. I think a lot of success comes down to how convinced the founder is about their idea, and how they can make that idea a shared vision…”
It doesn’t matter if you are selling the holy grail of weight loss pills that actually works. Without an audience, you will have no one to sell your product to. If you’ve been hustling on the side for awhile, your audience might be larger than you think. We love to consider the low-hanging fruit you have around you, by that we mean your friends, your co-workers, your circle of influence. We all have them. Just look at your social media feeds! How many potential clients or customers are there?
While you should have already built an audience working on your side hustle, you will need to expand in order to become a business. First, build a website that’s attractive, functional, and make sure that it showcases your achievements to your audience. This website will help you to sell yourself to people and convince them that it’s your product or services that they should be buying. You can also start creating social media profiles that make your work and advertisements easily shareable.
Next, you will need to figure out your marketing plan. Here are some questions that you are going to need to ask yourself during this process:
Who exactly is MY audience?
Do I have enough funds to pay for commercials and advertisements?
What are some free methods that I can use to get my products or services out there?
How can I market myself and appear more attractive to my audience?
How can I stand out from my competition?
A marketing plan and a website may not be immediately put to use but they are both things that need to be established prior to filling out business forms and licenses. This way, you will be able to launch your business immediately once you’ve been approved.
Side Hustle Nation founder and social entrepreneur Nick Loper was recently featured in the Change Creator podcast where he talks about monetization, marketing, and reaching his desired audience. He says,
“It’s been just a slow steady climb… Basically, when you write every post, you gotta think of, who is this for and how can I get it in front of them?”
Add to Your Experience and Ask for Feedback
There is a big difference between occasionally earning money from a side hustle and running a serious business. Let’s imagine that you have been producing wedding invitations and other wedding-based goods on a small online marketplace. While a couple of successful designs that you’ve produced for your side hustle are impressive enough to a potential client looking for quick, affordable work, you are going to need more experience than what you currently have in order to attract customers to your business.
Rather than taking on clients who aren’t going to improve your work experience or reputation, aim to take on bigger clients who will help you to grow in your field. These clients generally pay more, respect you and your time, and expect you to provide them with products or services that are of the highest quality.
Along with growing your experience, you will also need to ask clients for feedback on your products or services. This feedback will be valuable to you later one. Especially when you post it on your website so that you can prove to potential clients that you have worked with others before and are capable of delivering them the product or service that they need.
You should also be looking for feedback from other organizations and businesses. Unwin, who we mentioned earlier in the article, discussed the importance of receiving feedback from organizations in regards to her business:
“I talked to a lot of organisations in my field before I started Remade in Edinburgh, to get feedback, learn from them, and to ensure I wasn’t replicating what anyone was already doing in Edinburgh… A couple of years on, when things were really picking up, those other organisations felt like they had a stake in our success because they had been consulted from the beginning. Having them on board has been really valuable as we’ve grown. Make sure there’s buy-in from the groups you work with… you’re going to have a difficult time if the people in your field aren’t convinced.”
Save Enough Money for Emergency Situations
We all envision our businesses being successful from the moment that we launch them but this is often not the case. To prepare for this, grow your savings until you have enough money to safely fall back on in the event of an emergency.
Take into consideration both business expenses and personal living expenses such as:
Employee Wages (if applicable)
Office Rent and Utility Costs
Electricity and Water
Once you have enough to cover the costs of launching your business, unforeseen costs, and a couple of months of living expenses, you should be able to safely move forward with your business.
Of course, this is only applicable to side hustles that are not large enough or significant enough to receive the funding that they need. Do you have interested investors? Are you currently looking for more funding for your social enterprise? If you want to increase your wealth, it starts with a mindset. I recommend you read Lessons for Wealth that Stand the Test of Time to get started!
Forming relationships with other experts and professionals in your field is necessary if you want to thrive as a business owner rather than survive. When you have a relationship with another business owner, it benefits both parties. Through them, you are able to better market your product to a larger audience who will trust what your partner is endorsing. You will also be able to collaborate with them in the event that you find yourself running out of ideas for new products or services.
In order to network successfully, you will need to form meaningful relationships with other professionals. These meaningful, personal relationships will bleed over into your business life when you begin performing favors for each other. Attempting to only ask from favors from others without attempting to form a relationship with them will only prevent others from working with you and might affect your reputation.
In fact, there is a great post in Change Creator magazine that explains the why and the how of reaching out to important influencers in your industry. In order to reach these people in your industry that have already developed their business and have an extensive audience, you will have to:
Identify who these major players are
Start mentioning them in your content and providing valuable feedback on their content
Reach out to them once you’ve received more exposure and attracted their attention
These types of business relationships with other experts will not only help you grow but will make you a major player as well.
Turning your side hustle into a full-time job isn’t as difficult as it seems. Once you’ve done the research, created a plan, and prepared yourself to execute it, you will officially be able to say that your passion is now your career. Take these 5 tips seriously and the transition from hustler to business owner will happen with ease.
According to Investopedia, a social entrepreneur is “a person who pursues an innovative idea with the potential to solve a community problem.”
Take, for example, Muhammad Yunus. Yunus founded his own bank in Bangladesh that allowed those living in poverty to borrow money without having to pay collateral. His ultimate goal in creating this bank was to reduce poverty levels in the area and it was and continues to be quite successful.
To this date, the Grameen Bank has had an extraordinary impact on poverty throughout Bangladesh by doing something as simple as providing banking services to those who would normally be turned away.
Now that we know exactly what a social entrepreneur is and what they set out to do, the next question we need to ask is, what makes a social entrepreneur effective enough to make a large impact? What made Yunus so successful?
If you are struggling with your own business, what differentiates you from some of the successful social entrepreneurs of today?
It all comes down to a handful of powerful personality traits.
If you want to join the ranks of the effective social entrepreneurs, study and incorporate these 13 traits into your personality:
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Authentic
Social entrepreneurs are dedicated to their cause and wholly believe that it is their responsibility to do what they can to alleviate social issues such as poverty and the lack of access to education in certain countries. Those who are not invested in a cause and are only interested in making a profit are destined for failure. Effective social entrepreneurs are authentic and seek change, not a paycheck.
How can you avoid becoming a social entrepreneur that is only in the business of change for profit? Make sure that you are truly invested in your cause. Imagine that you have traveled five years in the future and are currently working to support your cause. Have you grown bored with your work? Are you excited about the type of money that you are making? Do you measure your success in checks rather than changes? If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, chances are that you not dedicated to your cause and will not be effective in your efforts.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Prepared
Social entrepreneurs, although goal oriented, know what it takes to run a successful business. Before they launch their business, they’ve constructed an ironclad plan that will ensure the longevity and impact of their business. They’ve done their homework and they are prepared for any obstacles that may come their way while they are running their business. The most successful of social entrepreneurs are prepared for the business side of their goals.
You may or may not have heard of Blake Mycoskie but you have most certainly heard of his company TOMS. TOMS is a company that produces shoes, clothing, and accessories for men and women. For every shoe or product bought, the company gives away water, shoes, and other types of materials and services to those who are in need. TOMS was and continues to be very successful in its efforts.
This success can mostly be attributed to Mycoskie’s entrepreneurial background. Prior to founding TOMS, Mycoskie successfully founded and ran five different businesses. His experience goes as far back as 1996 when he founded a laundry service for Southern Methodist University called EZ Laundry. Until the creation of TOMS, he also founded a billboard company, a cable network, an online driver’s education service, and a marketing firm.
Without this essential business experience, who knows where Blake Mycoskie’s company TOMS would be today.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Collaborative
No business functions well if a single person is attempting to control it or do all the work necessary to keep it running. Social entrepreneurs are well aware of this truth and have a large team by their side to help them achieve their goals and fight for their cause. They allow people to help them out and welcome ideas presented by others who share similar philosophies and values. An effective social entrepreneur knows to collaborate with others rather than trying to take on the world by themselves.
Need some networking tips that will help you become more collaborative? Take a look at some of the ideas below.
Reach out to people who have a large audience and who are dedicated to your cause.
Seek out family, friends, and acquaintances. These people will be your greatest assets during your entrepreneurial journey and may just have the skill sets that you require to steer your organization in the right direction.
Judge someone by their talent, not their status. While someone may have had 10 years of experience at a tech company and founded their own organization, it does not mean that they will always be the right fit for your cause. You may end up with someone who is uneducated but who has the skills you need to be successful.
Be kind and generous. Networking will not work for you if you are someone who consistently takes in relationships or who never reaches out for the sake of it.
Go to places where you might expect to meet someone who will be interested in your cause.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Flexible
Like Jimmy Dean once said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Things around us are constantly changing and social entrepreneurs understand that they need to change their ideas and their businesses to better equip themselves to deal with the problems they are targeting. Effective social entrepreneurs are flexible, adaptable, and know that they must change things constantly to be successful.
Flexibility is exactly how Lucky Iron Fish, a social enterprise dedicated to eliminating iron deficiency, managed to prevent their business from failing despite facing overwhelming odds.
Lucky Iron Fish appeared to have everything they needed to be successful. They had developed a product that was efficient and aesthetically pleasing, they had more than enough funding to launch the product, and they had created a sales team that would go door-to-door throughout Cambodia to sell their product.
The results, however, were anything but promising. The organization had failed to gain the trust and the interest of the community and they overlooked the fact that the Cambodian government had already been giving out free iron supplements. Instead of continuing to sell the product according to their original plan or giving up entirely, Lucky Iron Fish changed their course and began working with other organizations who were already operating throughout Cambodia in order to become trustworthy to the people and make their product more appealing.
Now, Lucky Iron Fish has been recognized by individuals such as Oprah and is selling around the world. What can we learn from this? Well, as the CEO of Lucky Iron Fish once said,
“We failed a lot and had to quickly adapt.”
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Daring
Social issues are generally brought about because society has been traveling in one course that has resulted in the issue itself. Because of this, a social entrepreneur has to be willing to go against the grain of society in order to solve the problem that is plaguing society. Social entrepreneurs that are truly dedicated to their cause understand that it takes a revolution and a little bit of rebellion to solve a problem that has been deeply ingrained into our beliefs and behavior.
Don’t be afraid to cross a few lines or do something new to achieve your goals. This does not mean that you need to break several laws or do something unethical in order to make a difference in the world but it does mean that you have to have the courage needed to challenge the status quo and push a few buttons in the process.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Creative
Although this may seem like an obvious personality trait, social entrepreneurs are creative in more ways than one. They are constantly providing unique solutions to some of society’s biggest issues, changing the way that businesses are run, and coming up with additional ways to impact the world around them. Using creativity to achieve these types of goals is what makes a social entrepreneur effective.
One company that comes to mind when I think about the word creative is soleRebels. soleRebels is a company in Ethiopia that handcrafts sustainable footwear using materials such as organic cotton and recycled tires. The way that the company produces their shoes also helps to reduce carbon emissions.
Along with their mission to recycle and reduce our carbon footprint, the company also provides jobs locally to improve the economy and to help those who aren’t able to support themselves otherwise. soleRebels solves not one, not two, but three different problems that are currently plaguing our society. This creativity is what sets them apart from other social entrepreneurs and makes them extremely effective at what they are trying to accomplish.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Passionate
A social entrepreneur usually chooses to become a social entrepreneur because they themselves or someone that they know has been a victim as a result of a social issue. Whether they have previously led a life of extreme poverty or have experienced violence within their culture, they are passionate about their cause and are dedicated to making a change in regards to their cause.
One such notable social entrepreneur who experienced a social issue firsthand and was passionate enough to make a difference is Shiza Shahid. Shahid is the driving force behind the Malala Fund, which is an organization dedicated to providing education to women in countries where it has been outlawed or isn’t provided.
Shahid was raised in the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad, and was devoting her time to help others from a young age. She was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to Stanford University and was able to receive a quality education. She noticed, however, that other women and girls in her country were not as lucky.
That was when Malala Yousafzai started receiving recognition for her effort to draw attention towards the lack of education in her country. Shahid, inspired, reached out to Malala and organized a camp that would give her the inspiration needed to become an activist and entrepreneur. A couple of years after Shahid organized the camp, Malala was shot by the Taliban.
Shahid once again rushed to her aid and because of the event and Malala’s recovery, Malala’s family and Shahid were inspired to create an organization that would address the lack of education for women. Malala decided that Shahid was the person for the project and Shahid took the helm, despite not initially believing in herself.
This type of passion is what made Shahid an effective social entrepreneur. She experienced an injustice that caused her to take action, persevered through the challenges of running an organization so that she could make a difference, and came out successful.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Charismatic
Social Entrepreneurs have a magnetic personality and a way with words that could convince you to join almost any cause that they had. This works in their favor because they are able to create of network of people united towards a common goal that will inevitably carry them to victory. A good social entrepreneur is charismatic and knows how to network with individuals that will prove to be valuable resources down the road.
Being charismatic isn’t as complicated as the masses make it seem. All that is required to be charismatic is passion and conviction. BELIEVE in what you are trying to achieve. KNOW that what you believe is an absolute truth. CONVINCE others that what you are trying to accomplish is possible and that you need their help in order to achieve it.
Believe in yourself and in your cause and your charisma will shine through.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Persistent
A non-negotiable goal and an iron will are necessary if you ever plan on being a social entrepreneur. If you have any doubt in your goal or if you give up easily in the face of conflict, you will never be able to create the change that you are seeking. You must be ready and willing to do anything necessary in order to achieve your goal. Persistence is one of the key traits that all effective social entrepreneurs share.
“I failed, many times in my life. One failure that I always remember was when my second book was rejected by 36 publishers… But my mother used to tell me, ‘failure is not the opposite of success, it’s a stepping stone to success.’ So at some point, I learned not to dread failure.”
Arianna went on to create Huffington Post, become one of Time Magazine’s Top 100 most influential women, and recently launched a new company known as Thrive Global. Without this kind of persistence, Arianna wouldn’t have become the effective Social Entrepreneur that she is today.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Energetic
Social issues do not have days off. Poverty or starvation does not disappear or momentarily cease simply because it does not feel like functioning one day and neither do social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurs are highly energetic and can always be found working, generating new ideas and solutions, and motivating and inspiring others to work towards their cause. Laziness or temporary lapses in motivation have no room in a social entrepreneur’s schedule.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Intelligent
Individuals who are determined to create change are highly intelligent. They are knowledgeable about their cause, they are well-versed in business, and they are clever enough to generate the funds and gather the following needed to keep their business running smoothly. They are constantly seeking new knowledge and embrace learning. Intelligence is necessary if you are striving to be an effective social entrepreneur.
Some great places to begin learning about business and socal enterprise include:
Begin to invest your time in learning these subjects and you will have a much easier time setting up and launching a successful social enterprise. Turn away knowledge and you may end up with a failing social enterprise instead.
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Humble
Social entrepreneurship has no room for the ego. The business of making a change in society has nothing to do with the person who is running the business. A social entrepreneur doesn’t make an effort to bring attention to them or make themselves seem important. They focus on the problem their business was designed to remedy and they do it to the best of ability, with or without recognition.
A great example of a humble social entrepreneur is the founder of Citizen Effect, Dan Morrison. Citizen Effect is a non-profit organization that was created to help fund small-scale philanthropic projects that provided people and places with things such as clean energy, food donations, and clean water.
The organization received $300,000 in funding in 2009, which Morrison planned to use to advance the company and receive even more funding. However, this never happened. Morrison, rather than acknowledging his talents and picking a role in the organization that was suitable for him, he decided that he was the CEO of the Citizen Effect.
Because of his ego, the organization did not grow and the funding that they received was wasted. On an article in The Guardian, this is what Morrison had to say about the situation:
“What should have happened? My funders and board should have sat me down, muzzled my ego and said: “Dan, you are going to be the founder and chief innovation officer and report to the new CEO we are now conducting a search to find… At the end of the day, it is not my board’s fault but mine for not being honest with myself. If I had been, there’s a high probability that a real CEO would have paused tech development, taken the data from our pilot along with the credibility that TomorrowVentures’ investment gave us, and hit the road to raise the capital we needed to assemble a powerhouse team and build a human and technology platform that would have changed the lives of millions for the better.”
He goes on to wrap up the article with a powerful statement that you will hopefully never have to utter to yourself:
Effective Social Entrepreneurs Are… Confident
Confidence is key in business. If you are not loud, proud, and absolutely sure of your business, you are not likely to attract the attention or the funding that you will need to support your cause. An effective social entrepreneur is sure of both their ability to make a difference in the world and their ability to create a business that will provide the solutions to make that difference.
You can start becoming more confident in how you conduct business with others by doing things such as dressing for success, replacing negative self-talk with positive thoughts, reminding yourself of your accomplishments insofar, knowing what you want and going after it, and eliminating self-doubt. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can conduct business effectively and confidently, it will be easier for you in the future.
Social entrepreneurship is about heart, dedication, and passion but also about trying to make money. To become someone who makes a difference, all you have to do is care enough to take action. Once you’ve found that desire, everything else will fall into place.