By Stephen King, Founder at SocialBusiness.org
The entrepreneur life is not for the faint-hearted, it is hard work and you need a lot of passion for your idea. The social entrepreneur does not get any breaks, and in most situations the challenge is even greater as the market is less well-defined. However, the characteristics of the two do not change, as entrepreneur’s they share these traits: Passion for their idea, experience in the field, come in pairs, and have been close to another successful new venture. This is a tall order for most people and due to the hurdles in forces most people away from entering the field.
As someone who is personally interested in the field, I was also somewhat daunted by the risks associated with ‘going it alone’. Upon further investigation, there are multiple routes into the social entrepreneurship field, potentially even more than the larger field. As the field is newly growing and trying to attract talent, the sector is quite open to people from the business world entering and lending a hand. Here are a couple routes:
Post-corporate: This is the most traditional method for non-profits and charities to attract senior business people, for both board and CEO roles. Successful corporate people, who are financially secure and want to know give back to society. They find the idea of sustainable business models operating in social areas, even more interesting. One such example is the CEO of Café Direct, who retired from a very successful career to move into the CEO role of this exciting social venture.
Within-corporate: Many corporations are keen to be associated with this growing sector. While in your current position, it is possible to start dedicating portions of your time to a social venture. In both the cases of Cool2Care, which started while at IBM, and Teach First London, which started while at McKinsey, we see great examples of migrating from their current employer to running the social venture that they started while fully employed.
Start from scratch: Spoken about above, the traditional route to starting a venture. This route is likely taken when you are already involved in the social sector, as you need to be close to the problems.
The sustainable business model in social sectors is an opportunity that has more possibilities and has wider appeal to the corporate business person. A growing number of routes and examples of success make this a more attract option for the socially conscious executive.