4 Main Reasons Why People Don’t Start Social Enterprises and Ways to Overcome the Concerns


Social enterprise uplifts society, that’s why we can’t have your brilliant ideas stay stuck in a void. You could be holding onto the next idea that changes a nation. You could be holding onto the next idea that changes a neighborhood. Both are important. It’s time to take a step closer to bringing your idea to life.

Do you have a social enterprise idea that you’re so close to starting, but haven’t? If you could start one, knowing you’d figure out whatever you need for it to be successful, would you start immediately?

A lot of factors can keep you from your big ideas. Some factors could take more time to work through than others, but ultimately, there is typically a way to overcome them. You are capable. Problems and concerns have a work around, a pivot, a collaboration, a mindset shift, or some type of solution waiting for you.

The exact concern you’re thinking of may be a variation of these 4 main reasons why people don’t start social enterprises. Let’s share ways to overcome each one.

Reason 1: Social Enterprise is an Unfamiliar Concept

Being unfamiliar with social enterprise is a top reason that gets overlooked, and possibly downplayed. It’s more than being unfamiliar. The concern is that you aren’t convinced social enterprise is what people advertise it as. No one blames you.

A business where you can help people and make money? A business where you, your customers, a community, and the planet all benefit? Purpose and profits that don’t harm the environment?

Most people may think there is a trade off somewhere. Worries can make you think that you can have profits, but not “enough.” Maybe something you experienced or witnessed makes you feel that things done for “good” have an ulterior motive. One of the best ways to overcome this block is to give yourself new reference points.

Understandably, we only know what we know until we see something different. A great place to look is at podcasts or blogs about social entrepreneurship. If you have trouble imagining how social enterprise works as a concept, there are podcasts, newsletters, and more that all focus on social enterprise.

These are places where you can find information, tools, personal stories, and a community of peers that share an interest in social enterprise.

Reason 2: Fear of Your Own Ideas

Sometimes we use reasons that aren’t that big of a problem to block or hide other true reasons why we aren’t doing something. Reason 2 is often the hidden reason. You may fear your own idea and the thought of committing to it. Starting your idea means you have to accept the possibility of failure, or you have to be okay with being seen as “unrealistic.”

Any idea you have isn’t meant to be flawless from start to end. There are going to be things you need to fix, address, and learn throughout your journey. There’s no need to fear the learning process. Instead, look at the process as more of an adventure. It’s an adventure where you get to learn more about yourself, your idea, and the many collaborators you’ll meet along your path.

The person holding yourself the most accountable is you. That’s good in some ways, but it isn’t helping if “accountability” is limiting yourself to impossible standards. Especially, when you haven’t started yet and don’t have experiences to build from.

Let yourself explore. Seriously.

To get past this block, find something random, small, and useful to do. Trying to get yourself to start can seem harder if you worry too much about what to do first. The real focus should be on building momentum and confidence through small actions. Lean towards an action that is seemingly random to keep yourself from making up excuses.

You want to do the things you are capable of doing right now. There are usually a lot of random or mundane tasks people ignore, thinking they have to do a bigger task first. The tiny tasks can help you reduce the fear around your idea and motivate you to do more.

Reason 3: Not Enough Resources

Here’s a reason we may all come across at least once. You have a grand idea, but you don’t have enough resources to complete the idea the way you envision it. There’s almost nothing as confusing as knowing what you want to do and not having access to make it happen.

Actually, you could feel many things: confusion, frustration, or disappointment. Then, there are times where you do try to figure out how to gain access to what you need. If it doesn’t go how you planned, you could feel worse. Feel what you need to feel, but give yourself props for moving forward.

After that, you can try other options for getting the resources that you need.

First, Ask. Very simple, but many people don’t do it often. Who you ask depends on what you are asking for. A good place to start is with a community you like or know. If you’re not part of some kind of community, that can be a short-term focus for yourself.

Find a place where you can connect to others, even if it’s unconventional. You can:

  • Join an online community of peers working in social enterprise or the field related to your idea.
  • Follow people on social media platforms and engage with fellow followers or commenters.
  • Become a regular at a local business your stakeholders frequent.

Second, Build. Sometimes you have to do things yourself. If resources are what’s stopping you, you may need to build your own version of the resource. This method is actually pretty effective. Think of the movie stars or directors who went ahead and filmed their own movie to jumpstart what would become an amazing career. It’s a bit like that.

The best part is that doing things yourself often attracts people who want to help.

Lastly, develop a resourceful mindset. Being resourceful allows you to see new opportunities.

Reason 4: Haven’t Built an Audience/ Community

People sometimes believe that an audience will find them right away. Maybe it’s more fair to say that people underestimate how long it can take to build a solid audience. There are also some people who hold back on the amount of value or impact they put out since they are waiting on a “larger” audience.

If a community or audience is your concern, this is another problem where interacting with others can help. In this case, one of the best ways to interact with others is through engaging naturally. That means being active in discussions (whether online or offline), sharing resources when and where you have the chance, or joining an existing community.

Imagine a group of social entrepreneurs learning about social impact, the triple-bottom-line, and business models while they share their discoveries and anecdotes with each other. It’s a mutual audience.

That’s why People Helping People is creating something for us to bond over.

We’re excited to announce our first-ever Kickstarter project: The Social Impact Starter Kit. It’s a custom deck of 67 cards with ideas, tools, tips, and concepts to help you find a great social enterprise idea that you can launch and build to make an impact in your community. The best part of all: on the back of each card is an example of an organization, along with its mission and how they’re creating an impact in the world.

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