Mission Driven Entrepreneurship
July 5, 2007 Leave a comment
In the past few years social entrepreneurship has been getting a lot of attention as an innovative method to help alleviate certain social ills, including poverty, homelessness, lack of education and illiteracy, sub-standard health care, environmental issues, and starvation and malnutrition, among other things. In the future, even more attention is sure to be focused on this area, because the founder of a very successful for-profit social enterprise won a Nobel Prize in 2006.
I agree that social entrepreneurship can be used strategically to help alleviate some of society’s most challenging issues. I also believe there is another kind of entrepreneurship that can have an even greater impact on society, including those who practice it. I call this mission driven entrepreneurship.
I understand that most if not all businesses have a mission statement. However, that’s not the kind of mission that I’m talking about here. I’m referring to a person’s life mission or calling. Another way to say it is the unique assignment that God gives to every person before they are even born. Accordingly, I define a mission driven entrepreneur as one who pursues and fulfills their life mission through the operation of an enterprise that seeks to maximize profits and positively impact social issues.
One key characteristic of a mission driven entrepreneur is their understanding that having passion for a particular issue is necessary, but it’s not enough by itself to make a venture successful. Many people start businesses in areas that they are passionate about, but they fail, because they don’t understand or execute critical business fundamentals. These entrepreneurs understand that their passion for an issue should align with their life mission, and be able to be incorporated into a business model that is viable in the marketplace.
A second characteristic of mission driven entrepreneurs is their realization that just having excellent business skills is not enough either. Mission driven entrepreneurs attack social issues holistically, utilizing a complex blend of business savvy, practicality, creativity, innovation, passion, compassion, patience, and money. They are big picture thinkers, but can also engineer efficient solutions that bring measurable results. They are consumed by the purpose of their work, because their work fits within the context of their life purpose and mission.
Another key characteristic of mission driven entrepreneurs is their focus on profitability. Although, a mission driven entrepreneur could start a non-profit, a growing number of them focus on developing for-profit enterprises. These entrepreneurs strategically grow their businesses to make a lot of money, but not for that sole purpose. Their goal in producing great amounts of wealth is to have the resources to make a more significant impact on the social issues within their spheres of interest and influence.
I am a perfect example of this concept with the consulting and training company that I founded, Wilson Innovation Alliance. One of our strategic objectives is to improve the economic conditions in under-privileged communities. We partner with community agencies, business organizations, and corporations to train people on how to start and grow successful mission driven enterprises.
Our short-term goal is to empower people by helping them to develop profitable ventures that can benefit them and their families. Our long-term goal is to use entrepreneurship as a vehicle to create more jobs in those communities that lead to greater levels of economic and social empowerment. With the the right amount of resources, strategies, innovation, and commitment, I believe that mission driven entrepreneurial concepts can be used in impoverished communities throughout the U.S. and around the world. The result will be people who are enabled and equipped to improve their living conditions and reach their potential. (Read my profile to learn more about my life mission).
Many people spend their entire lives chasing after their purpose, and never realize it was within them all along. Others spend an inordinate amount of time and energy chasing money and achievement, but never find fulfillment. Mission driven entrepreneurship allows for the healthy pursuit of both with the understanding that money is simply a means to an end, not the end in itself. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, do it in a way that brings fulfillment to you and positive benefits to others. Become a mission driven entrepreneur!
Paul Wilson, Jr.
2) Go to FastCompany.com to find a list of successful social enterprises, many of which were founded by mission driven entrepreneurs.
3) For those who are pursuing faith-based ventures that impact your local community, check out this web site: http://www.sba.gov/fbci/.