By Brook Price
Some business leaders believe social issues aren’t their problem — particularly if they run businesses in niche markets that seem far removed from the problems that plague others.
However, these leaders forget that the people grappling with these problems could be their own customers — living in a bubble doesn’t mean what’s outside the bubble won’t ever find its way in. The solution is social entrepreneurship, which offers a marriage of business and social solutions and is crucial in today’s world. Done right, it promises a positive push for cultural change.
In 2011, I looked to be part of that push. Frustrated with the healthcare industry, I started a niche business in a health intervention field that aimed to enact major social shifts.
From humble beginnings, I learned that favorable outcomes hinge on sustainable strategies. Much like developing a secret recipe, a few key ingredients existed that ensured my company would not only make a positive impact, but would also thrive in its niche market.
Here are four key ingredients that helped my company succeed in enacting social change:
The health intervention field used to be thrown together into one nondescript melting pot. Drug addicts were mixed with sex offenders, and criminals were combined with struggling young adults who just needed a little guidance in honing their life skills.
The idea behind my company, Forte Strong, was to create specialization by separating timid — yet potential-filled — young men from the rest of the pack. The boys we serve, who so desperately need guidance and confidence, are often conflated with criminals and addicts in this industry. The result can be devastating: These young men can begin adopting similar bad habits and unhealthy behaviors. We focus on breaking that paradigm.
So how do you find your own new and bold idea? With a little introspection, you’ll find you probably already have one. What separates an entrepreneur from a barstool hero is not an idea, but the ability and passion to take that idea and put it into action.
If you’re struggling to find your big idea, ask yourself the following questions:
Let your passion guide you. I couldn’t help but notice the turmoil, chaos, and heartache that surrounded me on a daily basis, especially at work. Constantly, these worries were tucked in the recesses of my mind; I began to see the disintegration of the family structure as one of today’s most troublesome societal issues. MTV, SpongeBob SquarePants, and countless video games are raising our children. Eventually, they’ll grow into adults who lack the necessary skills to become strong and self-reliant.
By harnessing these observations and following my passion, I created Forte Strong to fortify families. Further, my company looks to coach parents in getting involved with and empowering, rather than enabling, their children. It’s this contagious passion that fuels the things we do and the successes we achieve.
I quickly realized accomplishing everything in a day was impossible. Prioritizing was vital, so I divided my tasks into two categories: glass balls and rubber balls.
Rubber balls were issues that, if dropped, would bounce back. Glass balls were critical issues that, if dropped, would shatter and create a huge mess. I learned to take care of the glass balls first and the rubber balls later.
Don’t be one of those people who makes everything glass balls; you’ll waste a lot of energy doing things you feel are important, when in reality they’re not important at all. This approach may get a lot done in the long run, but it accomplishes few, if any, important tasks at the expense of exhaustion.
On the contrary, perhaps you’re the kind of person who doesn’t take things seriously. Are you flippant? Do you miss deadlines or put things on the back burner? If so, make sure someone on your team keeps you accountable and on task.
In the ’80s, my father owned a typewriter repair shop. Back then, typewriters were the foundation for every secretarial office around the globe. My father had a thriving business that showed no signs of slowing down — or so he thought.
Then a company called Apple came along. You can probably guess what happened next.
Unfortunately, my father refused to adapt to the shifting environment because all he knew was the world of typewriters, and he couldn’t imagine a life without them. Less than a year later, my dad lost his business. The best entrepreneurs must prepare for what’s coming and ruthlessly make necessary changes before it’s too late.
By mixing a bold idea with intense passion and remaining consistent yet flexible, Forte Strong quickly became a leader in its niche market. If you apply these same key ingredients, your startup will not only find great success in its industry, but it’ll also serve a greater purpose: to be a change the world needs.
Image credit: Pixabay
Brook Price is president and co-founder of Forte Strong, a failure-to-launch program that gives young men the skills and character traits they need to tackle the challenges of life. Brook has more than 15 years of experience working for some of the most prestigious leadership programs in the nation, most notably Outward Bound and the U.S. Marine Corps.