Funding is a lifeblood of any startup. It is a crucial element for the survival of any business.
For social entrepreneurs, it is important to take steps in the right direction if they wish to secure funds. This is the reason why they have to learn what social investors really want and what their expectations are. Having a thorough understanding of your businesses increases the likelihood of attracting the right investor. Therefore, the vision of your business must be clear and well-focused.
Below are four main guiding principles every social entrepreneur must bear in mind in order to secure reasonable funds to keep their businesses running.
Financial and Social Objectives Must Be Well-Integrated
Social entrepreneurs have to be convincing in order to succeed in winning the trust of an investor. They not only should have a persuasive social mission, but also present a strong business case. If both these elements are properly aligned, they create a strong case that can make an appealing financial outcome to widen your impact. A great example of that can be Taxi-Electric that runs the cars on electricity and charge a fair price for providing taxi services. In addition to that, they also provide job opportunities to people who experience long term unemployment or are students. Both of these core elements have enabled them to sell as many taxi rides as possible.
Another well-known example is Tony’s Chocolonely that produce and sell chocolates. Moreover, it opposes child labor and slavery at the same time by partnering up with trade firms in Ghana and Ivory Coast to purchase cocoa beans at a fair price directly from farmers. These organizations are making an effort to spread a positive message while growing their revenues and returns.
Investors usually look for such businesses that offer a combination of both. It is quite likely that angel investors would invest in visionary ideas and would try to improve the business side of these social startups, whereas, investment funds tend to focus on the business side in order to assist them in aligning their social goals. Investors normally expect social entrepreneurs to have a deep understanding of their financial as well as social goals along with having an integrated approach and clear vision. It is important to optimize your plan through discussion with your investor.
A Well-Balanced and Strong Management Team
It is important to have a well-balanced team of professionals.
Investors always stress the importance of having a solid team that has its goals aligned with the goals of a business. Having a group of professionals who are motivated to invest their time and expertise in a social enterprise is considered quite healthy for a business as it is an indicator of good future prospects. Financial institutions and venture capital firms specifically look for companies with strong teams while taking investment decisions. Therefore, it is recommended to add a diverse group of people in your team at an early stage, because having more than one person behind an idea shows its strength and persuasiveness.
Measure Your Impact
It is not easy for social firms to measure their impact or quantify its outcome and they blame the lack of resources for not being able to do so. Investors, however, consider the impact measurement a strong requirement before they invest in a business. Although, they understand that it is difficult to measure the social impact, yet, they emphasize that it can prove to be very helpful for social entrepreneurs to maintain focus on their operations and identify clearly what their goals are.
The question remains how to get it done. The key is to start small, for example, measure the number of people employed by a social enterprise and the positive feedback it receives. There is no doubt that every method comes with its limitations, but one cannot deny that you can, at least, measure your progress with it. Taking the question “why” is it you want to measure the impact can play a vital role in integrating your financial and social goals.
Avoid Deviation from Your Core Mission
It is very important to stick to your key mission. The deviation can cost a business a lot in terms of losing their financial wealth and losing their core values. It usually occurs after two to three years into the business, especially when new employees, leaders or investors start showing interest.
For venture capitalists, the shift from a mission is one of the major issues that arises in social enterprises. It happens when they start deviating from their balanced view of pursuing financial and social goals together, and instead, move toward financial returns at the cost of their social mission. If such deviation occurs, it detracts the social entrepreneurs from the original mission they discussed with investors.
It is to be noted that moving away from the original mission is not a bad thing as long as the expectations of the enterprise and investors are aligned. Keeping the investors on the same page, and having their agreement is crucial for the success of any social enterprise.