My classic definition of entrepreneurship is the ability to find a need and fill it. I believe that this is the way in which entrepreneurship has built our country and, indeed the world, over the past 100 or so years. As they say, “The times, they are achanging” and entrepreneurship is no exception. According to Triple Pundit, in their article, Millennials and the Social Entrepreneurship Revolution Millennials are a perfect match for the next best thing in entrepreneurship – Social Entrepreneurship.
Traditional entrepreneurship has had a focus on filling a need and making money by doing so. That short-term focus, making profit the only measure, has had the unintended consequence of obscuring the multiple benefits a business has to many aspects of society.
The rise of Social Entrepreneurship has begun to change all of that. The realization that business can have and does have a formative impact on the issues that face us and that how business is conducted is just as important as what business is conducted have been profound. Zappos is certainly the poster child for the how of business and that experiment has even overflowed into city design (Downtown Project). Tony Hsieh of Zappos and Veteran CEO Chip Conley the founder of Joie de Vivre Hotels have both proved the business value of an entrepreneurial culture.
The search for alternatives and more sustainable products has spawned whole hosts of new businesses in the areas of both energy and agriculture, to name just two. The impact of doing business in a sustainable way in other areas is rather hidden. The solar and wind industries are quite familiar, but the ability of the organic sugarcane farmers to bring back biodiversity (Grupo Balbo – Brazil) is not as well known.
Changing The Profit Motives
We have used the profit model of business in many areas and the issues that has caused in the medical and educational industries is only now being recognized. It is my hope that the Social Entrepreneur model that is values-based and more whole systems oriented will offer new models to balance the unintended consequences we are working with, in those areas.
That entrepreneurs, as a whole, are more experimental and strategic risk-takers bodes well for these changing times. We need new ideas to solve old problems. The company Enviro, coming out of the Washington University Foster School of Business that provides organic and non-petroleum alternatives to the coloring and preservatives we currently use in food is a great example of the hidden areas that offer opportunities.
Biomimicry had been an eye-opener for many entrepreneurs. The biomimicry approach brings together many different disciplines to take lessons from nature in the development of new products and processes that mimic natures own approach. We are seeing companies like Boeing discover how to revamp entire lines of business in ways that eliminate pollution and offer new opportunities, at the same time.
This is a vibrant and fertile time for entrepreneurs! As systems crash around us we are taking notice and redesigning from the ground up in new ways, ways that will create a healthy and sustainable world for coming generations.
Sharpen Your Vision
Kathryn Alexander, MA: futurist, speaker, author coach, her systems thinking approach to values and ethics enables deep change by impactful leaders.