A lot of people want to change the world and make a difference. Perhaps you’re a recently graduated college student. You’ve had the opportunity to learn about many of the world’s problems and you want to do something about them. Problem is, you’ve got student loans payments, bills, and all the rest.
Or maybe you’re in the middle of your career, and you’ve been doing some volunteer work on the side. You love the causes you’re working on as a volunteer and to do it full-time, but you need to cash some checks as well.
Dreaming about a better future is easier than actually making it happen. So how can you become a social entrepreneur or a self-sustaining change creator? People who change the world don’t get up one morning and suddenly become a social enterprise leader. It takes step by step choices every day, a lot of heart, and tenacity to change the world and that starts with you!
What are some things you can do to make yourself a more effective change creator and increase the likelihood of success? Or maybe you’re already changing the world for the better. How can you maximize impact?
We field these questions and topics all the time. Often, the answers can be found in our magazine.
Today, we’re going to grab the bull by the horn and jump right in. Let’s talk about why creating change is important. And let’s talk about how you can get the ball rolling and start pursuing your social entrepreneurial ambitions. We’ll also share some tips and insights on how you can constantly improve your ambitions and business.
Along the way, we’re going to go over some high-minded concepts, and also examine some real-world examples. A lot of people have already changed the world for better, but just as a business can constantly improve, so too can the world. And you can be a part of the movement to build a better world and more sustainable future.
Why Should You Bother Creating Change At All?
What’s the meaning of life? Philosophers have been asking that question for millennia, and we’re not going to be able to answer it here. Perhaps there is no one answer. Or maybe the answer is different for each of us. But we can still ponder. From a biological point of view, the meaning of life is to reproduce and pass on your genetics.
A lot of us tend to embrace higher meanings, and that’s great. But when it comes to giving a sh**, basic biology remains relevant. That’s true even if basic biology doesn’t yield all the answers. What we do today will echo throughout our lifetimes and beyond. Those of us living in the present are custodians of the future.
Change Your Mind. Change the Future. How to Approach our Resources.
When we consume non-renewable resources in the present, we deprive those resources of future generations. Forget about oil, gasoline, and the other non-renewable resources that often come to mind. Think about the many reefs around the world that are dying and can never be replaced. Think about our forests or parks. Or think about it in human terms. Every child who dies from a preventable disease is a squandered resource. That child might have gone on to do extraordinary things. Become a doctor, a fantastic parent, or a life-changing teacher. Or anyone else who could have contributed to society. People like you are tired of the status quo and are ready to do something about it!
Dream of a Better Future, Then Make It Happen
People love to dream about the future, spending as much as one hour of every eight thinking about it. Many of the dreamers that fill the pages of Change Creator have spent even more time pondering what could be. Many other social entrepreneurs also like to spend time with their head “in the clouds.” The future makes for a potent driving force. That’s true for both for our personal ambitions, and the potential to make an impact on the world.
There are countless different ways you can make a difference, and put giving a sh** into action. You could change your personal habits, consuming less, recycling more, and embracing a sustainable lifestyle. You could donate to charities and volunteer in your free time. Or you could become a social entrepreneur, putting the market to work. You can produce a profit for yourself and your company while also building a better future. That might mean developing sustainable technologies and alternatives. Or using technology to provide education to those who otherwise lack access. There are many ways to pursue positive change.
Business Can Be a Force For Building a Better Future
Change Creator is a business, we don’t deny it. We care about business measurables, including advertising revenues, readership, subscriptions, and all the rest. We must care about those things so that we can make a difference. Without money and readership, the lights go out and the mission dies.
The mission to make an impact by inspiring more social entrepreneurs to shape a better future is what drives us day-to-day. If we cared only about revenues and all that, we would have chosen a more profitable topic. But there are already tons of “money first” publications out there. Of course, money can and must be made in the social entrepreneur space.
Many of the entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed have built successful, even thriving companies. Still, if you want to be a true “Change Creator“, you have to think beyond dollars and cents. You need a driving motivation to make the world a better place and to preserve what we have for the future.
We are all driven by different things. Our Founder, Adam Force, is passionate about finding solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. He’s also passionate about empowering others so that they can find solutions. If Change Creator can inspire even one person to go out and make a big difference, it’ll all be worth it. But we’re aiming much bigger and our vision is to inspire one million Change Creators.
Millennials Find Their Passion First. Then Make Money and a Difference.
Or how about Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia. We’ll dive into his story later, but early on he was faced with a choice. Short-term profits, or sustainability. Chouinard is passionate about outdoor activities. He also has a deep respect for nature and sustainability. When founding Patagonia 1973, Chouinard focused on producing gear that was environmentally friendly. Now, Chouinard is a billionaire, and his company is one of the most respected and sustainable businesses around. It also generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues each year. Chouinard himself is also one of the most respected and lauded people on Earth.
Now, Chouinard is a billionaire, and his company is one of the most respected and sustainable businesses around. It also generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues each year. Chouinard himself is also one of the most respected and lauded people on Earth.
Titans of industry come and go, yet their names are often forgotten in the annals of history. Do you remember who was the shipping giant in 15th century Venice? We don’t. Wealth and power are fleeting, but striving to make the world a better place? That’s something that history remembers. We remember the Mart Luther Kings, Gandhis, Benjamin Franklins, and all the rest. Even yesteryear’s titans of industries, such as Carnegie Mellon, are now remembered more for their philanthropy than their businesses.
Change Creator is Serious About Creating Change to the Status Quo
We’re not talkers. We’re doers. Our magazine is very much about making a difference.
Contributing to the world is something that Change Creator takes seriously. Words can inspire action and impact.
The printing press ushered in the age of enlightenment, allowing for the diffusion of ideas and spurring intellectual debate. More recently, the Internet has given birth to the modern “Knowledge Economy”, shrinking the world. Now, researchers and thinkers from around the world can share their ideas and insights instantaneously.
For Change Creator, we want to support social entrepreneurs, do-gooders, and thought leaders who give a sh**. We want to inspire people to become social entrepreneurs as well. That can mean a lot of different things. Readers will see that in the diversity of our stories and the accomplishment of various social entrepreneurs.
When it comes to making a difference, there’s no one-size fits all approach. You have to figure out what’s most important for you, and what you can do to make a difference. What motivates to you as well. Just remember, we’ve only got one world so we’d better take care of it. We have to think not only of ourselves but those who have yet to come. We can’t offer you a simple blueprint to follow for creating change. However, we can share some lessons that we’ve learned along the way.
Get Sh** Done: Putting Talk Into Action
Talk is great, but without action, you won’t be making much of a difference. It’s the same with writing. At Change Creator, we don’t want to ink the prettiest words, we want to craft content that drives people to action. We want to inspire people, quite simply, to get sh** done.
Dreams and ambitions are beautiful, but without action they are meaningless. At some point, you have to stop dreaming and starting doing.
How you should get started depends on what you want to achieve. You need to educate yourself in the industry, community, and area you want to work. Education means more than reading (though reading is great!). Gain experience.
If you want to sell more sustainable fruits and vegetables, start a garden or go work on a farm. Work at grocery stories as well, and study how companies sell food. You can’t gain experience in every area, but the more experience and education you have, the better. Pursue your ideas. You might not have the funds to start up a grocery store right away or to establish a big farm. However, you may be able to grow vegetables on the land you have. You can sell your products at the nearby farmer’s markets, or by setting up a stand. Many great entrepreneurs come from humble beginnings.
You (Probably) Can’t Go It Alone
Share your ideas, try to find people who can help you in your efforts. Lone individuals often don’t accomplish very much. Humans are social creatures. It’s through organizations, society, and combined effort that most great things are accomplished. Steve Jobs had Joanna Hoffman, Steve Wozniak, and others.
These days, Bill Gates is known for his philanthropy. Can you name the wealth manager who helped Gates become one of the richest people in the world? His name is Michael Larson, and he’s regarded by many as being one of the best investors on the planet. Point is, both business and creating change are team efforts more often than not. As you strive to establish your business and make an impact in the community, you need to identify and reach out to potential team members.
Persist and then Persist Again
Creating change, building a business or movement, and establishing yourself as a leader won’t be easy. And chances are, you’re not going to be an immediate, smashing success. Quite likely, you’ll suffer some setbacks and failures along the way. Those failures might be personal. You might lose track of friends and family, or come to blows with business partners. Your failures might be abject.
Your first social enterprise could fall flat because you didn’t understand the market, the community, or another factor. Doesn’t matter. Persist and then persist again. People like to dream, and along the way, many people come to believe that their business will be a smashing success the day they launch it. You have a great idea, right? The world’s going to see that immediately, right?
As Dale Partridge, founder of StartUpCamp and millennial superhero says when entrepreneurs first start their company:
“People think it’s the Super Bowl. It’s really the first game of the season.”
You might have a smashing idea, but it’s not likely to be a smashing success, at least not right away. Persistence may be the biggest difference between would-be change creators who fizzle out, and those who go on to change the world. Try and try again. Failures don’t have to be losses. They can be learning experiences that inform your future efforts and ambitions.
If you’re serious about accomplishing anything, consistency is likely going to be the key. That’s why it’s important to find something you’re passionate about.
Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, you’re going to have to do it again, and again, and again. If you want to build a sustainable mountain climbing gear company or a thoughtful publication, you’re going to have to wake up day after day, making gear, writing and editing articles, whatever.
The Social Entrepreneur’s “Secret” Weapon: The Market
In the past, “do-gooders” and business-minded folks often lived in two different worlds. The business-minded folks would build a company, produce a lot of money, and then become rich. Along the way, some of them would give their money to charities and other do-gooders. Or some business folks would go ahead and start their own charity. Still, their business efforts and charitable endeavors were often distinct and separate.
Bill Gates is a great example of this. First, he built his company, Microsoft. Over time, he acquired billions of dollars. Then started his own charity, the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. Gates isn’t overly active in the business world these days. He was relinquished many of his duties at Microsoft. Meanwhile, his wealth is managed by professional investors.
However, Gates is actively pursuing various charitable endeavors, including global public health and education reform. Mr. Gates should be applauded and lauded for his efforts. However, “social entrepreneurs” are pursuing ambitions and changes that could produce even bigger changes in the long run. Social entrepreneurs seek to combine market forces with the “kind heart” of do-gooders.
It’s Good to Produce Profit and Change — At the Same Time.
A social entrepreneur wants to change the world and produce a profit at the same time. The secret to a social entrepreneur isn’t the profits themselves. Instead, it’s the power of markets and their ability to allocate resources. The market has proven to be the most efficient resource allocation system known to man. Perhaps a bit ironically, the power of the market is derived as much from its failures as its successes. Markets allow bad businesses and ideas to fail. Markets also allow great ideas to succeed and reward such ideas with more money and resources.
There are many great, efficient charities that allocate resources effectively and efficiently. These charities operate in a quasi-market where donors will often choose the most effective and efficient charities to donate to. However, this market isn’t as efficient and effective as the private sector where the ability to make profits determines whether a company will sink or swim. Social entrepreneurs compete in the private market. Either their ideas will succeed and they will produce profits, or they will go out of business. This means that effective, efficient, and well-managed companies with good ideas will succeed. Inefficient companies will go the way of the dinosaur and go out of business.
Staying True to Your Community
One of the challenges many social entrepreneurs face is creating positive change. The market is great for allocating resources to successful, profitable business ideas. However, the market can’t necessarily ensure that ideas and businesses do good. That’s up to you as a social entrepreneur. Are you willing to set aside short-term profits for the sake of grander, more holistic goals?
Remember Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia? Before founding his company, Chouinard was faced with a difficult choice: he could have pursued short-term profits, continuing to manufacture high-quality steel pitons, but doing so was going to damage the environment. After more than a decade of success, Chouinard came to find that the steel pitons that provided the bulk of his income were also damaging Yosemite’s rock faces. It turned out that the steel pitons he was making, were damaging the natural wonders in Yosemite and elsewhere.
Chouinard could have just kept his head low, continuing to sell his pitons. He would have made money, he would have paid his bills and supported his lifestyle, even if it damaged the environment. But Chouinard decided to stay true to his community. The environment is a precious resource, and the old way of doing business would have destroyed rock faces, ruining them for future generations. He chose instead to embrace “clean climbing” and sustainability, seeing it not as a hindrance, but a way to distinguish his company in the marketplace and to offer competitive advantages. Patagonia was born, and his new company wasn’t going to simply sell climbing equipment and outdoor gear.
Chouinard incorporated sustainability into his business model, making it a part of his company’s DNA. Producing profits wasn’t enough. Patagonia would produce profits while also acting as a custodian for the environment. His company grew, and now produces hundreds of millions of dollars per year in revenues.
Measure. Learn. Adjust. Repeat.
When it comes to being a social entrepreneur, it’s not just about profits. You already know that, and that’s why you’re reading this article. High-minded goals like saving the world and ending the poverty are great. Embrace them. Let them drive you. But you need smaller, more measurable goals as well.
Consider Change Creator. We worry about advertising and subscription like any other publication. Publications also worry about readership. How much time are people spending on an article, website or app? Are they reading the entire article? Are they acting on what they are reading by signing up for a newsletter, paying for a subscription, or sharing on social media? We obsess over these statistics because it helps us measure how many people we are reaching.
For Change Creator, we want our audience to be as large as possible, and it’s not just about the bottom line, it’s about expanding our reach and inspiring as many people as possible.
How can you measure your impact? How can you track how many lives you’re impacting?
Data is important because it informs you and allows you to measure your success. Intricate data, such as how long a person spends reading an article, provide a lot more insight than a simple bottom-line analysis. Even if your company is profitable, are you really maximizing success? Your data can help you find out. You can discover what’s working and what’s under-performing.
For example, we can crunch data to find out what articles people are reading and what topics are performing well. We can also see what topics aren’t gaining traction. Then we can adjust our publishing calendar to key in on the topics that are performing well. This should yield even more success.
What data you collect is going to depend on your business and your goals. When it comes to social entrepreneurship it’s important to remember your community and your altruistic aims. Many companies lose sight of their “do-good” ambitions by failing to keep track of their in-community impact. Don’t lose track, and don’t let profits become your sole focus. Always remember that you have higher ambitions. Make sure that those ambitions are coded into your company’s DNA. Blast them on your “About Us” page, codify them into your official company values, and track them with data, constantly and incessantly.
It’s Time To Get To Work
You know what? Enough talk. We could go on about this forever. It’s our passion. But the first step to creating positive change is to put ideas, dreams, and ambitions into action. So get to work. Pursue your dreams. Make the world a better place. We’re going to be right there with you trying to create a better present, and building towards a better future. We hope you’ll join us on our wild ride.