Scaling Social Enterprise – 3 Paths to Engagement

Social enterprises can face a tough task when trying to build their business and sell a vision and values to companies. While around the world attitudes are changing, in China such business models have experienced slower uptake. At a recent workshop hosted by Green Initiatives, we engaged a group of MBA students from Suffolk University on the topic of social enterprises and how they see the industry when compared to NGOs and traditional business. One of the areas of focus was on the value proposition of social enterprise. Through this discussion, we drew out a few key areas to direct your sales and vision when engaging potential clients.

Embrace the complex sell

You know how much business value your company can bring, but sometimes when engaging people on a subject they are not informed on or care about, educating them before selling is a key strategy. One MBA compared this to his life in complex IT sales when he speaks to clients they often don’t understand the systems. But embarking on a multilayered selling strategy with people from other parts of your organization can provide clarity on the solution you are providing. Sometimes people are scared to take the first step to invest in socially driven services, but give them the right information and process can result in success.

social enterprise discussion
MBAs engaging in discussion about the challenges and opportunities for social enterprise.

Show your added value

Also, your indirect value when developing your story and vision is another key way to promote your business. More and more employees want to work for companies that have a strong social and environmental stance. As a social enterprise, you provide this value. Your presence within the company portfolio not only make business sense but also increase employee satisfaction, retention, and efficiency. It may not be your primary service but don’t let this pass them by.

Find the internal advocate

One way to work with companies on your product or service is to find an internal advocate who really buys into your concept when a wider company apathy exists. By convincing this person, they can help to fight your cause from within the company. It may not always work as many other factors are at play, but win over someone with your passion and vision and it may just help you get the contract you need to drive change.

These are just three aspects of running and promoting a successful social enterprise. Many other factors from HR to daily operations all play a vital role in its success. One of the overriding points, however, that the MBAs proves vital is a well-aligned and executed company vision. This sets the foundations for all else to be built upon. Working well within this can lead to success and opportunity for businesses transformation.

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