NOTE: This article was originally published on the RECODE website and has been cross-posted with permission.
On May 4th, 2018, RECODE and the Trico Charitable Foundation co-hosted the second Canadian edition of Map the System in partnership with the Skoll Centre from the University of Oxford. Map the System is an ‘alternative’ challenge where post-secondary students are tasked with taking a systems approach to social change by demonstrating their understanding of a social or environmental issue.
There are a growing number of events connected to social entrepreneurship. Many of them happen in our home city, demonstrating what an incredible hub of activity Calgary is. The Trico Foundation team is pleased to attend many of them and wish we could attend more.
To zero in on the testing you need, you have to balance two perspectives. On the one hand, you want to be aware of and prepare for all key risks/thresholds as you move from where you are now to what you want your social venture to be when it is in its ‘steady state’ (i.e. your model has proven to be a success and growth is predictable and steady. A typical barometer in this regard is what your venture will look like five years after it starts). This will also help make sure you are building towards your goals rather than building a bridge to nowhere (this is a significant risk for start-ups, as discussed below). On the other hand, a lot of your current assumptions will be wrong, so you don’t want to go into too much detail too far down the road.
No matter how strongly you believe them, many of your views and beliefs about your venture are best guesses. As you move forward it is important to: have an understanding of what you need to be true in order for your social enterprise to achieve the social and financial goals you have set and find out, in the cheapest, fastest, most effective way possible, whether they are true.
While blending a social mission with an entrepreneurial model can be powerful, it can be surprisingly tricky. However, by mapping how your social model impacts your market value and the degree to which your social model addresses your customer’s needs map (and how these two aspects interact) you have the opportunity to identify a number of possible pressure points to keep an eye on as you move forward with your social enterprise.