Social Enterprise Launch Part 3: Your Mission

By Nicole Mangis on February 15th, 2016 / Comments

We’re diving deep into what it means to launch a social venture. Here’s part one on Defining a Social Enterprise, and part two on Questions to Ask Before Launching. Below is a look at how to hone in on a socially driven vision for a for profit enterprise.

It is ok to dream about your pie-in-the-sky impact, I actually encourage it. However, it is not healthy – for anyone – to assume that your dream vision is actionable in one fell swoop. You will need to break your vision into manageable steps and as you traverse those steps you will learn a lot. Here’s how you can get started.

Allow your idea to evolve. First, be aware that your idea will change as you start to hone in on developing your business and it’s mission. The evolution of your idea from conception to final implementation will be such that the essence of your idea will look different – maybe a little bit, or maybe a lot bit. This happens to EVERYONE! You are not alone. And this is a good thing for your business. So, do not get married to a perfect version of your business that can only live in your dreams. Allow your business to ebb and flow, as it needs to survive and create value.

People who you are trying to help need help for a reason, or more accurately for many reasons. Social enterprise is a lot like playing the whack-a-mole game at a local arcade – once you solve one problem ten more pop up from who knows where. Which means you will be tempted to add just one or two more services – because you care – but don’t. This is where the business is essential in keeping the mission in check. You cannot provide a service/product that solves everything, it is not possible. Suck it up, make key partnerships, spin off new businesses, but do not spread your current business so thin that you cannot keep the doors open. Because that will happen and then you are no good to anyone.

Remember business and mission are partners. Partners in the 50/50 sense not in the “well, when one is struggling the other picks up the slack” sense. Think of your social enterprise as 2 entities within one that have to get along regardless of how much it hurts. Without your business, you cannot deliver on your mission and without your mission your business has no purpose (yeah, it could possibly live on in a different way, but not the point). Think of these as a ladder. On each side is a pole, which anchor the rungs: business and mission. Keeping the poles balanced are the rungs which must stay consistent and in harmony so that you can ascend or descend the ladder (a.k.a scaling). What use is a ladder that has one short pole and rungs that are all out of sorts…?

Practice writing out your mission alongside your evolved idea and this will give you a strong place to start as you officially launch your social venture.

Once you’re up and running, you can add it to the Michipreneur Startup Directory too. Comment below and let us know if you’d like to see more social entrepreneurship stories!

About the Author

Nicole Mangis

Nicole Mangis

Nicole is passionate about social impact, entrepreneurship, and innovation. She founded Launch Exchange to grow social enterprise in Detroit and beyond through improving access to resources and community.