Use Community to Build Your Social Enterprise (Why Stealth Mode is For Suckers)

Arm yourself.  Surrounding yourself with other social entrepreneurs is the next best thing to learning-from-doing.  A community of people with similar goals adds to your knowledge bank, provides feedback, offers shortcuts, referrals and product discounts, and pushes you forward.

When Jill wanted to implement an IRA program for the employees who ran her coffee shop, she went to her local Sustainable Business Network to learn what other businesses had done.  She was able to replicate parts of their programs, use overlapping resources and get her IRA program up and running in less time and at less cost.  

Desiree had a business plan that she put together one night aided by coffee and “The Art of the Start.”  But she needed feedback to bring it to the next phase.  She went to the small business opportunity center at her city’s university where MBA candidates helped her develop her plan and recent law graduates helped legally establish her company.

To get the kind of feedback and guidance you need, you first need to talk about your idea.  Obvious, sure, but somewhere along the way we began holding our cards too close to our chest and thinking that it’s cool to be stealth. Outside of high-tech, stealth mode is overrated.  Talk about your ideas to anyone who will listen.  You’ll gain feedback, ideas, contacts and publicity for your company.

Jill and Desiree are just two examples of the many entrepreneurs who’ve used the resources available to them to add to their knowledge, inform their decision making and provide support–be another.  Sign up for newsletters from the sites below, check for local events, engage in their forums and study their resources.

Image credit: ThisIsGoingToBeBig.com

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2 Comments

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  1. Giang Biscan April 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    This is so true, Olivia.

    Your post also reminds me what someone said – we are those we surround ourselves with. If we can surround ourselves with people who share our values and vision, then the values we get from our community feedback is invaluable.

    Btw, I think even with high tech, stealth mode is overrated.

  2. admin April 28, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    Giang,

    I almost started out the post with that idea/quote. I think environment is responsible for so much of who we are.

    So, no more stealth–it’s bound to leak out any how or get left behind in a bar:)

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