Archives for posts with tag: innovation

This article was originally published on Jerri Chou’s Blog and titled, Why social entrepreneurs will lead the next generation of business (Dec 2009). It is all here, albeit the leading sentence.

Social entrepreneurs will lead the future of business.

That’s a bold claim. Why do I think this? Because it’s already happening, and has been happening (albeit more slowly than recently) for the past decade.

Like any progressive movement, it takes pioneers to blaze the way for the rest of us. Companies like Ben and Jerry’s, White Dog cafe have been hacking through the red tape, wagging fingers and sideways glances for years. In the process, they’ve proven that social mindedness and business are not mutually exclusive endeavors and a pack of wide eyed entrepreneurs are stampeding down the now highly respected path.

On the backs of these heroes of the social world entrepreneurs can now make their case (not to mention that they have all sorts of advantages our forefathers lacked like social enterprise business programs, networks, incubators and a blessing from the government).

Now there are many arguments that social entrepreneurship is praised more highly than intrapraneurship etc. I agree that both are crucial and, in fact, symbiotic (the work of innovators would never attain access to larger operations if not for enlightened people on the inside and those driving innovation there).

But there are some unique aspects to social entrepreneurs that make them the catalyst. One being that they have the least path to resistance to try new models and methods of doing things (no corporate red tape when you’re working out of coffee shop on your world-changing idea). But maybe the most important part, they are out to save the world, which means they won’t take no for an answer and want to move fast and big. This makes them susceptible to the greatest rule for entrepreneurship, “fail often, fail fast”. Social entrepreneurs are the test bed for what will succeed or fail in a business atmosphere. They also show us where huge market exists, often by going against all odds to prove opportunity where it’s been overlooked for ease of profit.

Can they change the whole business infrastructure themselves? Probably not, but they push the frontiers of what we know as possible which is extremely important and starts a cycle of demand (better business is possible, which leads us to demand better business). This then opens the door for their real potential of proving feasibility and and the integration of their practices into larger scale operations where it makes sense.

This excerpt taken from The Opportunity of Risk: Innovation from American Express OPEN Forum (Sep 8 2010)

We think that there is little point in entering a new market unless it provides the opportunity to really shake up an industry. Almost all our new ventures come about from our thinking up a product or service that we believe people really want. Then, if our entry has the potential to make waves, we’re going to look at it very closely.

You’ll notice that making a profit hasn’t entered the picture yet. It’s rare for me or the team to consider only the money that can be made. I feel it’s pointless to approach investing with the question, “How can I make lots of money? We must bring in the numbers guys and work out some business plans.” No one will ever agree on exactly how to make money. The consultants will say your idea will work, while the accountants will prove that it cannot.

When it’s time to decide whether or not to go ahead, the decision must come from your heart…pursue your passions, your ideas will be more likely to succeed.

I learned to follow my passions at the beginning of my career, when some friends and I created Student magazine to give a voice to young people who were campaigning to stop the Vietnam War. As for the actual business aspects, such as paying the bills… well, we had to sort that out later. We just hoped that we would sell enough copies to stay afloat and learn the business side as we went along.

READ the full article.

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This excerpt is from Branson’s Next Big Bet, published on CNNMoney.com (Oct 2 2006).

What was the first business idea you came up with?
I set up this magazine called Student when I was 16, and I didn’t do it to make money – I did it because I wanted to edit a magazine. There wasn’t a national magazine run by students, for students. I didn’t like the way I was being taught at school. I didn’t like what was going on in the world, and I wanted to put it right.

Of course, a lot of businesses want to reach students, so I funded the magazine by selling advertising. I sold something like $8,000 worth of advertising for the first edition, and that was in 1966. I printed up 50,000 copies, and I didn’t even have to charge for them on the newsstand because my costs were already covered.

So I became a publisher by mistake – well, not quite by mistake, because I wanted to be an editor but I had to make sure the magazine would survive. The point is this: Most businesses fail, so if you’re going to succeed, it has to be about more than making money.

Are you saying entrepreneurs should go into business without the bottom line in mind?
Ideally, since 80 percent of your life is spent working, you should start your business around something that is a passion of yours. If you’re into kite-surfing and you want to become an entrepreneur, do it with kite-surfing.

Look, if you can indulge in your passion, life will be far more interesting than if you’re just working. You’ll work harder at it, and you’ll know more about it. But first you must go out and educate yourself on whatever it is that you’ve decided to do – know more about kite-surfing than anyone else. That’s where the work comes in. But if you’re doing things you’re passionate about, that will come naturally.

Read the full article HERE.