I’m seeing an interesting shift in entrepreneur mentality, or at least I hope I am. It appears that some current, but mostly aspiring, social entrepreneurs in particular are finally beginning to incorporate social strategy into the often-novel concept of becoming an entrepreneur. In my opinion, this is a change we need to see - and the sooner, the better.
Strategy vs. Tactics
What it really comes down to is an understanding of both strategy and tactics – and the subsequent embracing of both. Strategy is essentially a set of objectives pieced together to achieve a particular, often broad-reaching, goal. Tactics address the “how” of the situation; tactics are the specific steps required to reach that particular goal. These concepts are most commonly understood in terms of war. The goal? To win the war. The strategy might be “divide and conquer,” while the tactics might include training soldiers to shoot guns or to drive tanks.
Back to Business
In terms of business, I find that many entrepreneurs tend to think along these lines: “I have an idea! Ok, so how can I take it from idea to working business model to funded business model to money-making business model as quickly as possible?” The goal is simple: PROFIT. Then the steps are laid out – but where is the strategy?
An important component that draws people to (sometimes serial) entrepreneurship is agility – the ability to think on your feet while defining the steps required and then completing those steps as effectively as possible to turn a profit as quickly as possible. And I’m not saying there’s anything fundamentally wrong with that. Entrepreneurs (good ones, at least) are DOers. They simply GET IT DONE.
The New Social Entrepreneur
Strategy plays into entrepreneurship when a DOer says, “I want to change this particular aspect of the society that I live in.” – or – “I want to start a social enterprise and I want it to be really effective.” And this is a fantastic place to start out – but only if these new, socially conscious entrepreneurs understand the equal need for not only tactics, but also for strategy.
I want to see more of this type of leadership in our community. I think we need it. Too many non-profits seem to be focused on strategy, which is great, but the tactical side of the endeavor is often slow going. If they do it right, these new social entrepreneurs can offer so much more than our existing nonprofit/entrepreneur dichotomy ever will.
The main idea: our communities can and will benefit from these new, strategic social entrepreneurs: people who can get it all done, while envisioning the strategy required to work toward larger social goals.