“There are no social enterprises, there are only enterprises,” said Madan Padaki, Founder and CEO, Head Held High, at The Social Entreprise Summit presented by Headstart and Villgro. Enterprises, he added, will soon be measured by social impact parameters along with just financial growth and traction.
A small but strong group of social entrepreneurs were gathered on November 21 to understand the finer details of right hiring for social enterprises, women and the impact they bring in social sectors, and the big question of funding. With the burgeoning and fast growing startup ecosystem, the social enterprises today are learning different pegs of growth and success.
The spillover of the increasing number of startups in the country is seen even in the social sector. Many for-profit and non-profit social enterprises are cropping up in the country, and yet we still have a long way to go.
Lessons for a social entrepreneur by an investor
A social enterprise is a business, whose primary reason for existence is to create social impact and uses profits as the means. But while you’re a social enterprise all the rules of a commercial enterprise applies.
The time to do things might be longer, but the rules do not change. Sanjay Anandaram, Venture Partner, SeedFund, says, “You might be thinking you’ve evolved because of the end result you would be bringing, but guess what the guy on the other side is thinking those same things.”
- Define your goals clearly – specific objective creation
“However, I believe social entrepreneurs today need to answer what they’re doing and what problem they intend to solve. Many times when I meet social entrepreneurs, they talk about bigger issues and the larger impact. I am not here to listen to that, I am here to listen to what you’re here to do,” said Sanjay.
Citing an example he said you need to say – I am going to set up a school, which is going to educate urban poor children. Once the model is done, I will scale it to x number cities and in a period of 10 years I will ensure y number of people will be literate.
It’s easy to get lost in the higher order of things, but as an enterprise and as an entrepreneur you must be focussed and precise. Learn how to engage with people and tell them exactly how you intend to build something.
2. Think big
For social enterprises, scale is the key. It’s not about a small charity or social good. The impact of the work being done needs to impact the lives of several people.
3. People, people, and people
Every business runs on this mantra. It’s important that you should be able to attract quality people, engage with them, and retain them. Quality people stick only if there is value. “If the chemistry isn’t right the math doesn’t work,” adds Sanjay.
This is true for a social enterprise because the organisation is essentially being led by a missionary leader, with a great sense of purpose. The idea is does everybody in the organisation share that same sense of purpose.
4. The virtue of patience
Social enterprises run on different rules, and they take longer time for the end result to show. Hence, patience is one of the greatest virtues a social entrepreneur should have. This doesn’t mean there is no sense of urgency. While there’s that, the time to outcome is generally stretched out.
“I have seen several social enterprises not invest in processes just because they’re social enterprises, but that’s a wrong answer,” says Sanjay. He adds that you can’t build a company without a process. A feature is not a product, a product is not a business, a business is not a company, and a company is not an organisation. “Process makes a person independent. If you remove the top management of any company, will it continue to function? A company can’t be dependent on one person,” says Sanjay.
In today’s world nothing can scale without technology. It makes life easier and helps productivity scale in its own ways.
“The beginning of the end of any company begins when they start believing in their own PR. You need to always think how you can be better and improve, only that leads to growth,” said Sanjay.