While helping non-profits run more efficiently, I talk to many individuals who are passionate about starting something themselves to help. People looking to make a difference by starting a new enterprise — the ‘Social Enterprise’.
Too many of these individuals are starting their conversations with ‘Insert passion and purpose here’ followed by “Business is not my strong point”. With big hearts and a passionate drive to help, they are frustrated often at how hard it can be to get involved with other organisations that are already doing work.
Bottom line. If business is not your strong point, you should not be starting a business. It doesn’t matter if your intentions are noble, a business needs to be run well independently of the cause that it is servicing.
For instance, if you start a café that employs the less-fortunate and provides opportunities for training, engagement and employment for those that otherwise struggle with it, it will not do well if the coffee is terrible. It won’t do well if the food isn’t up to scratch, and it won’t do well if the service is no good.
What these remarkable, generous and understanding people bring to the table however is exactly that. They bring understanding of particular difficulties, they bring relationships with those in need, or people going through tough times. They bring an ability to connect with those who need a connection.
The real future of social enterprise, or social responsibility is the connection of these people with business people, people whose skills are business. The Just Be Nice Project is about connecting business with those who understand social responsibility. We need to let the business people grow enterprise with scale, and the socially responsible individuals need an avenue to grow and scale the positive impact they can have.
A successful cafe may just employ those less fortunate, if we have people to provide wrap-around support services to make it easy for the business to be involved. It allows the cafe to participate in making someones life better, if allows the social entrepreneur to focus on looking after the human element and challenges that come through employing disengaged individuals.
If you believe you can run a social enterprise… Run a business first. It is much easier to add social responsibility to a successful business with scale, than to find a way to create consistent revenue from good intentions. Social responsibility is a long game, long term consistency and scale is the key to enormous positive impact, not big ideas with poor execution.
There are already plenty of organisations with mission statements and bold ideas that fall well short of the mark before they fade into insignificance. With a non-profit for every 385 people in Australia alone, we could surely solve a large portion of the worlds problems by being more collaborative, consistent and accountable.
If you are a person with a big idea that is unsure how to execute, feel free to drop me a line to discuss how we can use your skills, in collaboration with another organisation to reach scale and achieve longevity and consistency in the field of social responsibility. Along the way we can reach more people, educate and inform those who are able to help and provide lasting impact across the globe.
As always, Just Be Nice.
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports