Entrepreneurs aim to solve a problem they are passionate about; be independent and work for themselves, and innovate. Starting a business from the ground up is a tough job. If you are trying to solve a problem that is considered a ‘social one’, it requires an innovative approach and a can-do mindset to deliver a scalable business. The chances of failure is high, but as an entrepreneur, one should worry about the opportunity you might miss rather than fathom the thought of failure.
When you set out to build a for-profit social enterprise, it’s important to combine proven practices along with technology to address complex social problems. For example, while building a business that provides financing solutions to largely excluded communities in the lower socio-economic strata of society, combining established microfinance principles along with innovative technology can ensure successful lending to this demographic. An approach that combines these two aspects results in a highly scalable and profitable business model with social impact.
According to one of the world’s most successful start-up accelerators TechStars, 10 percent of their companies fail in their journey. This figure is even higher when entrepreneurs try to create a “meaningful” business. But challenging the status quo would result in greater satisfaction, and the potential to create social impact at scale is in itself a noble mission.
So what is the secret to success? Below are five factors to success
- The right mindset: If you want to succeed in solving societal problems, the right mindset is key. To every problem, there is a solution, however challenging it might seem. However, the most obvious solution is not always the right one and you may only learn this through practice. It’s crucial to be quick to execute, learn and pivot. Failure is not a concept. You are always learning and making progress. Finally, focus on your strengths and use that to create value.
- Choosing the right problem: So what’s the right problem to solve? Choose a problem you are connected to and believe in, because you need the drive to work 24/7 in finding a solution. Choose one big enough that it matters and one that other people are trying or have been trying to solve.
- Right location: Location, location, location! The most favourable place to adopt and scale your idea might not be your home. Instead you need to be sure the market is ready to adopt a solution and consider the size of the addressable market. Crucial for success for entrepreneurs is a market where it is easy to do business and you can rapidly show proof of concept, without too much bureaucracy.
- Invest in a great team: This means a team that believes in the mission, challenges the status quo, is competent in key areas from fundraising to business development. Occasionally add in “the odd duck” — people from a different background to bring in a fresh perspective.
- Go big or go home: Just like the quote, give it all you’ve got and be the best that you can be, or don’t participate. All you’ve got is what is going to make you achieve the scale that matters. Identify the key strength of your product or service and double down on them. Always do faster in order to stay ahead of the competitors. While learning fast, growing, pivoting or doubling down on certain parts of the business, communicate clearly with all stakeholders and build relationships with key stakeholders.
If all these are done while keeping the DNA, mission and vision of the company, you will surely build a scalable meaningful business. Always remember, “if it were easy, someone would have already done it”.