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.


Can You Train Customers To Do New Tricks?

Customers and changing shopping habitsIn the US, there has been a lot of talk about how the retailer, JC Penney, missed the boat when they eliminated sales and stated they were offering the lowest price without coupons or sales. In fact, JC Penney reported that they missed their expected sales goals of $3.4 billion. What happened?

Overview of the JC Penney story

After Ron Johnson, architect of Apple’s retail success, joined JC Penney as CEO, a major overhaul was begun. Previously JC Penney was a stolid retailer. With the massive change plan being implemented, the stores were remodeled so that there are mini-shops or boutiques within the store. The American retailer changed their merchandise as well as their pricing strategy. They explained that it is a “fair and square” deal to have customers pay a low price any time they shop without using coupons or attending sales.

Do customers prefer the status quo?

One theory being proposed as to why JC Penney is struggling with customers is that they prefer coupons and sales to one low price. It has been a harsh lesson for this retailer and Johnson has stated a belief that “coupons were a drug; they really drove traffic.” (An interesting note-as reported on on May 31, 2012, JC Penney is adding “Best Price Fridays”)

It sounds more like the thrill of the hunt as a shopper looks for the best deal at the best time. Is this unique to US consumers? Different countries have their own shopping cultures. In some countries, the price is the price and there are no sales. In other countries, it is expected that the customer will haggle with the seller for  a mutually satisfactory price.

Certain expectations

No matter where a customer is geographically, there are certain expectations about what type of merchandise is offered, how the store is laid out and what the price points will be like. For many customers, they are aware that the stores are marking up the price so when they get a “good deal”, shopping feels rewarding. (There are other psychological things going on too.)

But what if the store tries to change the status quo?

That is what JC Penney tried to do and it was received poorly. Customers either stopped going to the stores or reduced the number of purchases. It seems to be based more on habit. Take traffic flow in stores. In the US, shoppers start on the right side and go around counter-clockwise while in the UK, the preferred path is to start on the left and go around clockwise. Customers will continue with their habitual path even if stores design their layouts in the opposite direction.

But what about online shopping?

In an Internet Retailer article, customer behavior is becoming habitual as well. There are expectations about discounts and shipping costs. Price comparisons are a click away on laptops and mobile devices. There are apps and websites that simplify this so shoppers find what they want more efficiently. In fact, globally, online shopping is on the rise and there are distinct habitsabout where and when people shop. One such habit is using the shopping cart as a wish list and waiting for the best price to be posted. This is making online retailers scratch their heads on how to get people to just buy the item right there and then.

Can retailers change how customers shop?

This seems to be a tall order. There seem to be a lot of variables that could create failure for a retailer, regardless if they are online or a brick and mortar store. Certainly JC Penney bucked current trends by stating they did not want to do business as usual. They declared they were not marking up their merchandise just to give a false sense of saving money. But regardless if you are selling in a brick and mortar business or an online business, people are looking for the discounted price because the perception is that you are paying too much if you go with the stated price. Perhaps the consumer mindset is too set in habits?

How would you describe the shopping habits where you live?

What shopping habits were affected by the recession (or are still affected by a poor economy)?

What are the top variables a retailer needs to consider before altering how they sell to customers?

How do you train customers to shop “your” way?