When one hears “entrepreneur”, I’m sure the descriptions of trailblazer, problem-solver, innovator or risk-taker pop into the listener’s head. It becomes a description for someone who is brave and ready slay the dragon but also prepared to be imprisoned by the belly of the beast and make their way out to try again. It means never giving up, fail forward, solve the problem, and make a difference—create real change.
With these admirable traits, who wouldn’t want to be considered an entrepreneur?
Well, here we are again at the close of another summer. I always feel like these months slip right through my hands – which is probably why I’m writing this blog about time management. Over the past few months, I’ve found myself learning my way into innovation and entrepreneurship in a way that is sufficiently self-directed.
As part of the completion of my minor in Indigenous Studies at Mount Royal University, I had the opportunity to study on the island of Hawai’i for three weeks with over 20 other students. We were there to study aloha àina and activism – as it pertains to the Kanaka Maoli communities. In the same vein, I was also there to start building relationships for my business. I had just started my time as a Trico Foundation summer student, and felt that this opportunity would be a great way to delve into some of the specifics around my venture, Sarjesa Inc., and its future growth.
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.