Each year, increasing numbers of professionals are choosing independence over more traditional careers. By 2020, 27 million Americans will leave behind traditional office spaces and uniform work hours in favor of full-time self-employment. For some, the decision to switch careers will mark the start of their journey to becoming a social entrepreneur.
Cities across the United States are buzzing with news of early-stage startups joining incubators and raising additional rounds of funding. While it’s an exciting time to be in business, creating the next world-changing company isn’t for everyone. Here are five of the worst reasons to become a social entrepreneur—and why this path might not be for you.
Thanks to the iconic status of entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Steve Jobs of Apple, there is a popular misconception that with business savviness (and the right idea) comes near-guaranteed wealth.
The stark reality is that building a business from the ground up requires more than just a desire for financial gain. You’ll face sleepless nights, 50- to 70-hour workweeks, and waves of stress and uncertainty. Scaling a social enterprise is a slow process and can take years to become profitable, if at all. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, only about half of all businesses survive five years or longer.
Due to the risky nature of building a business from the ground up, a majority of entrepreneurs fund their business with their savings, profits, and business loans for the first few years. With a lot of hard work, risk, and luck, riches can happen (but nothing is guaranteed).
The National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted an average starting salary for 2019 MBA graduates of $84,580—provided those graduates found jobs in computer science, engineering, science, or business. (
Students considering an MBA or graduate business degree can choose from varied career paths, including those focused on financial management, data analytics, market research, healthcare management, and operations management. The analytical skills and problem-solving techniques gained from graduate level business degrees are in high demand across business sectors. ( )
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If you like holding on to a position that allows you to work within the confines of what’s familiar—and what you love doing—then you may have to rethink your motivation to become a social entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, no day is ever the same, especially within the first few years of business. And as a lean team, sometimes of only one, you’ll wear multiple hats and tackle all kinds of aspects of your business.
Some days, you’ll have to be the maverick salesperson. Others, you’ll play the role of customer service. The first few years of entrepreneurship are anything but stable, and while there’s no shame in loving what you do, become a social entrepreneur only if you fully understand that you’ll be doing a lot of new, varied, and challending tasks each day.
More than ever, consumers are aware of their spending habits and looking to translate their values into the brands they’re buying. Building a startup with a social good or sustainability component can boost the visibility of not only the entrepreneur but the business venture.
However, taking the journey of becoming a social entrepreneur for the sole reason that it’s “in” can only lead to disaster. Successful entrepreneurs such as Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes, build successful ventures by meeting demands in the market and aligning those demands with a social need—not the other way around.
Ideas can spring up anywhere, from midway through a conversation with friends to the first sip of a cup of coffee. Many social entrepreneurs turn the most spontaneous ideas into viable business products and ventures. However, a plan without a sturdy foundation will slowly start to crumble.
Without doing your due diligence—through research, choosing the right business model, and testing out your idea within the market—creating a successful venture will be an uphill battle. Instead of building a startup because of your concept’s potential, go directly to your target audience, and invest time learning about their pain points. Build a venture, not because of the likeability of an idea, but because it will tackle a more significant problem within a target community.
Not everyone in the corporate world is happy. Of the dissatisfied group, some individuals might see becoming a social entrepreneur as a way to land in a more dynamic career. While it can be, social entrepreneurship deeply contrasts the corporate world.
Jumping in with only a goal to be your own boss is a whimsical approach that has a chance of success, but you’ll likely run into problems. This path requires an extremely high level of autonomy, dedication, self-motivation, and perseverance, especially during the early years of business.
Social entrepreneurship can be the gateway to career perfection for some, especially for those looking for a level of freedom that working in the corporate world can’t provide. Before jumping into the journey, make sure that you’re in it for the right reasons and not ticking any of the boxes above.
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Priyanka Jaisinghani is a social entrepreneur, writer, and advocate with a passion for making an impact. As the co-founder of a global mentorship program, GirlzFTW, she works to connect high school and college girls to inspiring mentors. She is also driving impact through her work as Managing Editor of Conscious Magazine, as a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shaper community and the United Nation Foundation’s +SocialGood Connector Class.