Should You Co-Opt Your Competitor’s Business Model?

Business model, changeAs host of the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz,  I am often on the lookout for interesting topics for us to take apart and discuss. So the headline for this HBR post, “Embrace the Business Model That Threatens You” caught my eye. What could this mean? What are the pros and cons of this? Continue reading


Latest Ideas of the Future of Social Entrepreneurship

Looking at future of social entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship has been getting more and more on people’s radar as it becomes more mainstream. Social entrepreneurship is a subset of entrepreneurship with the emphasis on using business to drive a social change. On the the Twitter chat, we have featured guests like Nick Allen of Spring Ventures and Eve Blossom of Lulan Artisans. But social entrepreneurship is so varied in the types of products and services offered as well as its sociological impact that it is worth taking a look at what might be coming next.

What’s driving the future?

According to thepost on Fast Company about the 10th annual Skoll World Forum,there are 10 ideas emerging:

1. Changing systems- Taking the “it’s always been done this way” and providing a fresh or completely different way of doing things

2. Change is accelerating- New ideas and technologies are being offered in the marketplace at a faster pace than perhaps has been experienced in the past

3. To solve our problems, we need more problem solvers- Encouraging all people to take part in solving problems in their own communities and beyond

4. It starts with young people- Educating more young people to be entrepreneurial as well as guiding them to be changemakers

5. Scale through collaboration- More and more startups and organizations are partnering, franchising or scaling through influence are providing new models for growth

6. Technology is driving creative disruption- With more access to devices that connect us all, there is more democratization and opportunity, particularly in developing economies.

7. Power is moving from few to many- Anyone can have a voice and anyone can use real time data so less of the power is concentrated in an elite group.

8. The silos are breaking down- A question was raised regarding if the former boundaries and models of NGO’s, corporations and governmental agencies are being redefined.

9. Here comes the social intrapreneur- Increasing numbers of changemakers within established organizations leading the way to more sustainable and human-centered endeavours.

10. When you pass the torch on, light many fires- Succession planning and legacies goes beyond simply finding someone to step into your shoes.

 Lots of different angles to change the world

All of the social entrepreneurial ventures take a known problem or practice and simply create a response that gives us an opportunity to look at our world differently. Sometimes the best way to create a different result is to change the playing field. In the post, Independent Diplomat and Khan Academy were featured but there are others. One venture that is changing a system is the Irish small business cooperative, Smeople (I wrote this profile on Rob Marr on Whether it is diplomacy, education, small business funding, hospitality or the fashion and apparel industry, changing the world is not a one solution enterprise. 

Interconnected world

So far, many of the 10 ideas mentioned above are young in their development, even 10 years on. There are uncertainties about how viable some of the business models are as people work to combine social good with earning profit. It seems we are in a time of great change that involves social and economic models.

Two slogans come to mind as I look at these 10 different ideas. One is that “all politics is local” which was coined by Tip O’Neill, former Speaker of the House in the US Congress and the other is “act locally, think globally”. As social entrepreneurs step into gaps left by NGO’s, governmental policies or cultural mores, it seems that a grassroots response is producing these new ideas which have a foundation in older ideas. Perhaps we are seeing the cornerstone of a new perspective on business. Instead of business being a greedy and uncaring entity, it can be a source of social change, generosity and caring. It remains to be seen as these various ventures mature over time.

Join us Friday, May 17th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am Pt on the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss the future of social entrepreneurship.  Here are the discussion questions:

What do you observe about social entrepreneurship?

How do you see the idealism of social entrepreneurship becoming more mainstream?

What are potential barriers to more adoption of the spirit of social entrepreneurship?

Who gets left behind as social entrepreneurship becomes more mainstream?

What expectations are being created for social entrepreneurial ventures in terms of sustainability, creating customers and earning profit?

What role should businesses have in creating a more equitable and just world?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.


The Marketplace Challenge of Our Time

Tom Asacker The Business of Belief

This is guest post is by Tom Asacker who has been teaching and inspiring organizations and entrepreneurs for over 20 years. He is a professional speaker, management advisor and author of The Business of Belief, Sandbox Wisdom, A Clear Eye for Branding, A Little Less Conversation and Opportunity Screams.

How do people make decisions? How do they choose one product, service, cause or idea over a similar one? That is today’s most critical question, because nothing happens until someone makes a decision.

*Please join our guest ,Tom Asacker, on Friday, May 10th at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT for the Twitter chat, #KaizenBiz as we discuss “The Marketplace Challenge of Our Time”. Not sure how to participate? Please click here for tips and advice. Continue reading


Could the End of Free Come To Social Media?

social media, Twitter, Facebook, GoogleTwitter pulled a cute April Fool’s joke back on April 1st of this year. The joke was that there would be two tiers of service. The free level would remove all vowels and the paid level would include the vowels. While this was good for a laugh, another post caught my eye that asked some interesting questions. Justin Fox asked if users would want to be paid for their contributions and could the major social media sites continue to provide a free platform for the majority of users.

A little background

It’s worth reading Justin Fox’s post, How Long Will You Be Willing To Tweet For Free?. While he wrote about a bet between Nicholas Carr and Yonchai Benkler as his starting point, his focus was on how the big social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google could keep offering a free platform for user-generated content (peer production). Curiously, he ties in research on The Prisoner’s Dilemma in which two individuals are told they can earn money if they cooperate but get nothing if they do not cooperate. Fox makes the connection that people will engage in peer-production as long as they perceive they are getting value.

The value for users

The magic or attraction of social media sites lies in the varied content that is created by the users, the peer production. This means you can find something about pie making, gaming or even social media because someone is posting relevant content. For businesses, large and small, have a vehicle to broadcast their message, drive sales and engage with their customers. And it’s for free! You can’t get that with advertising on television or print media.

We have also seen the major social media sites explore various revenue sources such as targeted pay-per-click advertisements, paying for increased visibility of your posts and other options. There seems to be a desire on the part of the social media sites to keep their users happy while trying to find ways to provide actual monetary value to their shareholders. Some of these have been hit or miss, including turning off some users so they cancel their accounts.

An emerging tension

At the end of his post, Fox notes that all of the larger social media sites are heavily involved with Wall Street. The question here is how long can Twitter, Facebook and Google balance providing their free platforms with the demands of shareholders and investors. There is another tension coming from users who are evaluating the return on investment they are getting given the time commitment, level of engagement and ability to broadcast and self-promote. Fox points out a concern that if users perceive the value as failing them, they will abandon the social media sites.

Being paid for contributions or remaining committed to peer production

This is an awkward dilemma. There are many users who are on Twitter, Facebook or Google who use the sites for personal reasons. They may be producing content but it’s not for monetary gain. On the other hand, small businesses and multi-national corporations use the sites for visibility and broadcasting. They might see value in becoming a sort of paid staff when they provide content. After all, finding new ways to increase revenues is certainly a part of business.

The value received from participating on these sites is not necessarily based on monetary gain. There has been some research done on how it effects people. It seems that social media provides a great deal of gratification including activating parts of our brains that interprets rewards. A “like”, “retweet” or positive votes can make us feel very positive.

What is the greatest value that the major social media sites provide?

What sort of mindset is needed to account for the social media site business model(s)?

How would it change your participation if you knew user-generated content was recompensed?

How would it change your participation if you were the one being paid to generate content?

How do you see the major social media sites manage the demand they increase revenues and create profits without losing their “magic”?

About the author:  Elli St.George Godfrey, founder of Ability Success Growth, small business coach and executive coach, is the host of KaizenBiz. I’m passionate about business becoming a more human-centered place so I host this chat to connect business ideas and develop people.This passion shows up in my work with my clients. Whether you are expanding locally or internationally, Ability Success Growth guides established small business owners and executives to unlock the CEO within during times of transition and growth.