In a recent classroom lecture with my students we were onto discussing the categories of enterprises and their challenges. A lot of discussion happened around what are the characteristics of social enterprise and what mindset is required to start and run a successful social venture. Socially inclined cause, focus hinged on impact of operations, highly efficient resource utilization and ability to constantly put beneficiaries ahead in every action emerged as strong characteristics.
Suddenly someone raised the question on why these become secondary for any other venture type. Aren’t these fundamental to any business? Then, the debate on factors differentiating a social venture from any other picked up. Much of the arguments were around the cause and the motivation that drives various types of organizations. The class agreed to settle this by declaring as an entrepreneur if you are set to making a difference to the larger society than yourself – you are running a social venture. If the motivation to create an enterprise is to make a difference to yourself then the enterprise moves into the for-profit category.
But we also agreed that a good for-profit can be only created, if it creates value for others. Only if you make products and services that makes a difference to your customer’s life at affordable prices – do you have a good for-profit running. So even at the heart of a for-profit organization should be the value that gets created for the customer in the most optimal manner. Making those useful products / services at affordable prices that will make life better for the thousands who can pay for it is the social consciousness that has to be ingrained in the DNA of any venture. Every successful business running a for-profit had made it big only because of this social consciousness of creating value. When you recognize and work with the understanding of the social side of your venture, the returns you get becomes multi-fold!