Thanks to everyone who attended my session last Wednesday. I tried to provide practical advice for entrepreneurs launching or participating in social enterprises. I talked about the space and my top 10 lessons learned. If you haven’t seen the lecture you can view it here.
I believe we had around 70 people in attendance – which speaks to the momentum building in the social enterprise sector. And it seemed like my messages resonated – the number of questions after the presentation and offers of people volunteering (for Better The World) were overwhelming.
I would like to comment on a few questions that were brought up repeatedly.
- How do I choose between a for-profit and not-for-profit model?
If you Google “for-profit versus not-for-profit” you’ll find ample material in support of your decision. It comes down to a basic philosophy: are you operating to make money and do good or just do good and not make money? If you need profit to drive innovation and investment in your firm, then you probably fit a for-profit model. I am not an expert in this field, but you should carefully consider the environment when making this decision. There are 181K NFP’s in Canada – all drawing the same funds. Is there room for you?
- What tools and technology did you use to get started?
We all purchased laptops (Macs), a projector, we use Basecamp (37 Signals) for project management, YouSendIt for big files, Entourage/Exchange for email and Evernote for note taking. Many of our colleagues have moved everything over to Google and use the Google email, calendar and document sharing services. For remote presentations we use WebEx – but be careful, the long distance service is very expensive, so it’s best to get an 888 number if you can.
- How do you manage volunteers?
We make sure we understand the needs of the organization first and then we try to match volunteers to those needs. Free help is only good if it adds value to your organization, otherwise it can take a lot of effort to manage people who aren’t getting you closer to your goals.
- What inspires you to keep going in the face of adversity?
I think if you ask most entrepreneurs the answer would be similar:
- A passion for the mission, perseverance toward success
- Resilience to obstacles (and the ability to overcome them)
- The feeling of purpose, luck and doing something for future generations.
So to everyone out there who’s jumping in and will become one of Canada’s future social entrepreneurs – good luck and be sure to give back to your fellow entrepreneurs by openly offering your experience and wisdom.
Downloads and resources
Weren’t able to attend the class? Need some notes or want to look something up? Click below for all of the goodies from the lecture. Watch the video and the slide presentation below.
CIBC presents Entrepreneurship 101 2009/10 – Week 8 – Lived it Lecture – Better the World from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.
Steve Croth: Lived It Lecture
View more documents from MaRS Discovery District.