An idea, a passion, an observation: Any one of these can change your life and, depending on how you handle it, many other lives as well. Take Kyle Berner: He combined his own desire for comfort – flip-flops – with the desire to create social change. Voila! Feelgoodz Flip Flops was born.
That was in 2007. Already, this social entrepreneur’s comfort shoes are now sold in nine states and Canada. His socially responsible business uses natural, sustainable materials and donates 3 percent of its proceeds to social causes.
No, he isn’t Bill Gates … yet. (But even Gates started small.) Berner is one of many people who have decided to be part of the solution to the world’s problems by using his business skills in an innovative way.
He demonstrates a couple of ways you can do well while doing good, which is what it means to be a social entrepreneur. He uses sustainable resources to make his product and he contributes part of his proceeds to other social enterprises, which creates a ripple effect.
All this because he hated wearing shoes!
Gina Quiroga and Barbara Savidge like to indulge their dogs but wanted to do so without damaging the environment or giving their pets unhealthful food, so they created a pooch product line, Olive Green Dogs, that is eco-friendly, supplying organic, non-toxic and recycled products for pampered pets.
In addition to concern for the environment and its inhabitants, what these entrepreneurs have in common is the realization that if they see a gap in the market – something they’d like to have but can’t get – other people probably feel the gap, too.
That realization is when an idea can become a business. Add the desire to make the world a better place and you have social entrepreneurship.
You know that feeling, “Why doesn’t somebody make a … ? I bet people would buy it.” Or, “If they had the right kind of software, people wouldn’t have to … “
Which is not to say that you can run right out and set up your flip-flop or doggie-products stand on the corner and become Bill Gates. It takes planning. The more of that you do upfront, the better the outcome is likely to be! It may take help from your friends, market and sourcing research, classes to acquire new skills and peer support from other social entrepreneurs. (Check out our video about getting the support you need.)
But just because it can’t happen in a day doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
Not all the good ideas have been taken. In fact, every day new possibilities – yesterday may be both today.
There are still plenty of holes to fill.
Have you thought about filling a gap in the market? What’s holding you back? Where have you looked for ideas and help? Do you know of someone else who has taken an idea or passion to market? What got them going? Where did they get help?