There is one point of contention where I receive most resistance from social entrepreneurs. That is my insistence that the entrepreneur stop being in love with their mission and think through their business model first. There is a naive sense from the entrepreneur that they will do well because they are doing good. That love affair is a major cause of failure for entrepreneurs, including myself.
Only if the business works will you achieve your mission. If you are going to generate any portion of your revenue from sales, you need to insure that you have a business model that will work before spending a lot of time on your mission, metrics and impact model. I don’t mean to say I don’t think your mission is important. It is. But if you’ve chosen a business model to achieve it, then the mission cannot overshadow your business model, which is the means (business success) to the end (impact success).
This is where the Lean Startup methodologies are as applicable to social entrepreneurs as they are to traditional ones. Read and follow Eric Reis, Alexander Osterwalder, Steve Blank and Ash Maurya. Why do I recommend them? Because they’re sharing their own experiences from both success and failure in the entrepreneurial environment of today.