Developing a Social Enterprise Business Model - Harnessing the Value of Past Experiences By Chataun Denis
Are you looking to make a career change? Do you want your life and your work to have more meaning and purpose? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should seriously consider becoming a social entrepreneur.
My path to social entrepreneurship seemed to be divinely orchestrated from the very beginning. I started working in the nonprofit field over 20 years ago. Although I had a short stint in the for-profit world, nonprofit is all I've ever done and been drawn to. The unfortunate part is, the pay could be better and it's a lot of work, but the work is tremendously gratifying.
After about 15 years into my career, I began to notice an emergence of inner conflict. It was as if the walls were closing in and all of a sudden, well it wasn't sudden, my disappointment with being underpaid, overworked, and underutilized had been brewing in my subconscious for quite some time. It was as if my inner convictions and external experiences were conspiring to create a perfect storm that would push me to the edge, forcing me to take a stand. The defining moment was when I was unexpectedly terminated from my job.
I chose to see the termination as an opportunity; that life was releasing me to pursue my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Having worked as a full-time grant writer the prior two years I realized I could do the same quantity of work in 1/3 the time and get paid more. This was my starting point. Acknowledging I didn't know much about running a business, having had several businesses fail in the previous years, I decided to take a few graduate MBA courses. The new business principles I learned perfectly complemented my nonprofit business background. I was well on my way.
Today, I'm still in business. It's been 6 1/2 years. The moral of the story is that: 1) I love my work; 2) I'm paid what I'm worth; 3) I'm my own boss; and 4) I'm making a difference. Freed from the rat race, I am enjoying my life now more than ever.
The million dollar question for you is: how do you harness the value of your past experiences to start earning a living, living your passion? I propose the answer is already within you waiting to be discovered. There are a few simple steps you can take to begin discovering what it is you should be doing with your life.
Step 1: Take an assessment of your skills, strengths, weaknesses, and passions. What are you good at? What excites you? What would you say is your area of expertise, for which you have quantifiable work experience?
Step 2: Now that you're clear about what you have to offer and what makes you happy, translate this into a product that you can sell. The goal here is to sell what you're good at, at a price that is satisfactory to you and your customers.
Step 3: Steps 1 & 2 are the foundation of your business model. Next, you'll want to make sure there's a market for your product. Is anyone else already doing what you propose to do? What are their prices? Who are their customers? How will your product differ from theirs? What is the profile of your customer?
Of course, the process of launching your own social-based enterprise is more complex than the three steps mentioned here. But, it's a start. If you have a desire to do more and be more, you owe it to yourself and the people who could benefit from your unique talents to discover the gift you are to share with the world.