While mentoring an early stage social venture today, I was reminded that it’s so easy to get lost in the weeds while developing your business and impact models. You are always at a crossroad where there are so many variables to consider and so many possibilities to pursue. You don’t have a framework to guide you; you’re building it. At the same time, it’s very difficult to step back from your solution and pivot your idea.
Here are three strategies to refocus yourself when you feel that you’re stuck in peanut butter.
1/ Go back to fundamentals. What is the social or environmental problem you intend to have impact on? Go back to where you started – what sparked you to start on this journey? Have you wandered of target in the process of seeking a viable solution? Re-ground yourself.
2/ Take an honest look at the viability of the problem you’re addressing. Is the problem you’re addressing too large? Break it into important, meaningful but manageable chunks and see if there is one you can get your arms around. Can the problem be tackled effectively through the vehicle of a business? Not all and maybe not the majority of social and environmental problems can be tackled through applying business practices.
3/ Don’t be impatient. It takes hard work and conversations with many stakeholders, lots of data and honest reflection to have viable business and impact models. As a social venture it’s not unusual to have a multi-sided platform at the heart of your business model where there are several stakeholders, adding complexity. You need to understand the problems and needs of each stakeholder in depth. And then you need to be testing your assumptions until you feel you have verification that you’re on the right track. Steve Blank’s model of Customer Development provides brilliant tools in this regard.
Just a reminder. April 15 is the deadline for applications for the communityBUILD seven-month Social Venture Pipeline.