So, you’re ambitious and tech-savvy, and you’re thinking of starting your own business. Why? Do you want to: make money; avoid the day-in, day-out drudgery of working for a large corporation; be your own boss; have the freedom to creatively contribute to the world; or all of the above?
If you answered yes to any or all of those options, you could be a social entrepreneur. This is the best of both worlds – where you get to start and run your own business plus solve a social challenge in the process.
Then why do so many entrepreneurs not consider social entrepreneurship? It is usually because of one of these four myths.
Myth 1 – Social enterprises are charities or not-for-profits
Many are, but they don’t have to be. In fact there is currently a wave of social-based businesses emerging as part of the start-up scene including in areas such as education – 40k Group, food
FoodConnect, and employment – Clean Force.
Myth 2 – Social enterprises do not focus on profit
Actually, they do. The only difference is that profit is not the only focus. Where commercial enterprises are focused primarily on financial value creation, in social enterprises the focus is twofold. Social and financial value creation go hand in hand.
Myth 3 – Social enterprises do not follow good business practices
Social enterprises are built on the same foundations as commercial enterprises. Profit, sustainability, product/service delivery. The difference is in the added element – social impact, which often requires innovative business models and creative sustainability strategies. From this perspective, social enterprises are even more dependent on good business practices to be successful.
Myth 4 – There are not many opportunities for digital-based social enterprises
In today’s world, almost any business needs a strong digital component to be successful. The digital space allows entrepreneurs to create solutions at a scale that was unimaginable before the advent of the internet. Bringing together digital talent and a drive to create a positive impact allows you to harness the power of technology to create large-scale change for people and communities.
If you want to create a start-up, social entrepreneurship might be for you if you want to:
Further information, resources and opportunities for social entrepreneurs include:
Enterprise Network for Young Australians
School for Social Entrepreneurs
Social Ventures Australia
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Jillian is a former participant in the Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneur Program. She is co-founder of Power of Engineering – a national program that inspires young females to consider a career in engineering; and Founding Director of Machinam – a tech start-up that is transforming maths education for high school students. Jillian’s strong record of providing opportunities for females in engineering, maths and science professions recently landed her a place in The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards, which highlights the important contribution women make in creating a bold and diverse future for Australia. Having a background in civil engineering, Jillian is also completing her PhD, investigating innovation in the Australian water sector. Full profile at LinkedIn.