“Everyone does it, how hard can it be?”

“I can do it all by myself, I don’t need help.”

Do these sound familiar? Starting your own social business has many benefits  Nevertheless, as a first-time social entrepreneur, excitement can lead to overestimating what you can do and underestimating what it will take to start a business.  In the beginning,  it is highly likely that you will face unexpected issues and  make a few mistakes,which is completely normal. Here is where we come in to help you out! In this Blog post, we’ve put together some of the most common mistakes social entrepreneurs make and how you can stop them from ever occurring in the first place.

Mistake 1: “I can do this all on my own!”

Creating a brand, vision, and name, looking for funds or investors for your enterprise, creating excel files for the data and keeping them up to date. Oh, don’t forget to be active on social media and perhaps create a website. I almost forgot! You also must keep in touch with your customers to keep them satisfied. Have you already checked the best way to make your product or to deliver your services in an efficient way? 

The list of tasks can go on and on. So, there is no shame in asking others for help! Although very fulfilling, it is hard to create a brand from scratch and do it all by yourself. That is why you need people! It can be either family, friends,  old colleagues or even complete strangers that share the same interests. There will be a lot of components and aspects of running a business that you will not like, or that aren’t familiar to you. Here is where your network of people comes in by showing you support and even complementing your skills. So, our best advice is for you to be honest with yourself and admit when you need a helping hand..

Mistake 2: “Being an entrepreneur won’t take that much effort”

If you underestimate the work you must put in, then you can get overwhelmed fast. No one said that starting a business isn’t doable, but it’s not a piece of cake either!. Therefore, it is key to come up with milestones and goals that you can break into a timeline. This way, you can  clearly see what is asked of you and where your priorities should lie. Biting off more than they can chew by trying to tackle all problems at once is one of the common mistakes that social entrepreneurs make. So, start small and when you feel you are handling it, you can add on to your list of tasks.

Mistake 3: “The strategy plan will stay the same”

It is highly likely that  not everything will  go according to plan. Even though you have planned and mapped everything out, it will most likely change through time. Therefore, as Darwin put it, you must adapt to survive!  It may take some time to solve unexpected problems,and that is okay. You should consider  the end results might not always be as great as you had hoped. Here, patience is everything! Never lose your focus and especially don’t give up! Always remember why you started and how passionate you are about your cause. It is not always going to be perfect, but you should enjoy the process and appreciate the little (and big) achievements while learning from the hiccups along the way. Mistakes will happen and you should embrace them. Just keep in mind that identifying the problem and knowing what to do better next time is what really matters.

Mistake 4: “My business’ identity doesn’t need to be defined from the get go!” 

If you do not have a clear visual identity or vision for your business, it is hard to communicate it to your customers. They will most likely not understand the advantage of choosing your products or services, which could lead them towards competitors. Also, the name of your brand is very important, so be sure to take some time to think about it. Common mistakes first-time social entrepreneurs make are choosing names that are overly generic, too difficult to pronounce, or that can be misinterpreted in other languages. When you are satisfied with your new name, do some research to check if it is already in use by competitors. If that is the case then consider an alternative to avoid problems in the future. 

Mistake 5: “As a social entrepreneur, Communicating with others is easy!” 

This is one of the common mistakes social entrepreneurs make and should avoid. Communication problems can occur with both audiences and within the team. Like mentioned above, if you are not communicating your vision or goals correctly,  your audience will easily prefer the competition. As a new social enterprise, it is important to reach the right people with the right message, to create more impact for your cause. However, bad communication doesn’t only occur externally. If you have a co-founder or a team it is important to work effectively together. Talk with one another to figure out what everyone can bring to the table and how you can complement each other. If the work plan and communication doesn’t flow, it will most likely affect your performance. 

Mistake 6: “I want to get it all done asap!”

Stop rushing, no one is chasing you. Start by getting a good picture of your customers and target audience and developing your product or service accordingly. If you feel like the end product/service isn’t ready for launch, expansion, or increased output, then simply stop. Like mentioned before, it is important to hit your audience with the right message in order to  attract them. If you signal anything before you are ready to do so, then it could backfire in the shape of  less awareness, for example. So, think of good and strong ways to signal your brand and when you are truly satisfied you can go public with it! Furthermore, while marketing your brand online, it is important to understand how it all works. For example, do some research on digital marketing and have a look at search engine optimization and  your social media strategy, before randomly posting or launching something.

Conclusion

Nobody is perfect and making mistakes as a new social entrepreneur is normal. But if you can learn from others and avoid some of their mistakes, then more power to you!

After reading this blog post, we hope you got a clear picture of what beginning a social enterprise can entail, and what you can do to make the process as smooth as possible. We hope you’ll see the whole process like we do, as a fun and challenging way of standing up for your cause and making a difference!

SPEAK

Do you want to start a social enterprise, but have no idea where to start? Then SPEAK is the right choice for you!

Here, we are ready to help you launch new social franchises around the world with the Take SPEAK to Your City program! So far, dozens of people have taken on this challenge and opened a SPEAK Chapter in their city, helping us reach more people and create inclusive cities for all.

Choosing our Social Franchise means becoming a SPEAK founder and social entrepreneur with all the support from our central team!  Starting off with a proven business model is already a good indication of success. Still, we will help you throughout the whole process to make sure your business succeeds wherever your city may be. 

Excited? Take on the challenge of starting your own social enterprise with us! Click here to Take SPEAK to Your City.

Author: Souhail Boussalem

Souhail is a marketing intern at SPEAK, he is a student at the University of Tilburg in the Netherlands and he moved to Lisbon in September. He loves to surf and to explore the city.

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