The great Albert Einstein once said, “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

This quote reinforces a maxim we should all live by: always be learning. Irrespective of how many years of social enterprise experience you may have, no matter how many social enterprise programs you’ve completed or how many social ventures you’ve founded, there will forever be something new to learn.

As the pace of change accelerates, social entrepreneurs must be flexible and adaptable, and lead by example. Great social entrepreneurs are always learning, growing, and focusing on creating an environment in which their enterprise, teams, customers and beneficiaries can flourish. However the demanding world of social entrepreneurship makes it difficult to find the time to stay ahead of the learning game.

Stop trying to read everything out there. There’s too much. And you’re too busy. Instead, here are the best articles for aspiring social entrepreneurs that you need to read:

Why Social Entrepreneurs Are Taking The Lead 

by Kate Rodriguez

The social entrepreneurship received a significant public boost in 2003 when a group of NGO heads was invited to the first-ever social entrepreneurs session at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Since then the idea has been embraced globally by businesses, governments and non-profits alike. The result is a new breed of socially-conscious business models and a rising demand for organisational leaders who can steer innovation along such lines.

6 Questions To Ask Before You Start A Social Enterprise

by Jean Case

Because of their unique goals, companies that have a mission to turn a profit and do good have a different set of questions to ask than traditional enterprises when they’re getting started. What are the critical questions you should ask if you want to be a for-profit social enterprise? Here are six things to think about.

The Poor Are Not the Raw Material for Your Salvation

by Liam Black

A solemn warning for those who let ego and exclusivity cloud their social – and business – judgement. Black’s Letter to a Young Social Entrepreneur argues that creating a cadre of heroic, almost superhuman individuals has unintended consequences and inevitably leads to questionable decisions. The post prompted heartfelt reactions from the global social innovation community.

The One-for-one Business Model: Avoiding Unintended Consequences

by Knowledge@Wharton

Companies that make everything from shoes to eyeglasses have implemented the so-called one-for-one business model – meaning for each product that is sold, someone in need gets a donation. Does that help or hurt the intended beneficiaries?

How Social Entrepreneurs Can Have the Most Impact

by Katie Smith Milway

With so many small start-ups, are social entrepreneurs at risk of creating well-intentioned, but fragmented efforts that won’t ultimately change much? This is indeed the risk, but they can avoid or offset this fragmentation by adopting three approaches that allow even the smallest social enterprise to have outsized impact.

Can Social Enterprise Ever Be Big Enough to Change the World?

by Rajeeb Dey

A business that aims to help society is clearly a better prospect morally, but what about when it comes to strictly business? When asked to choose between two businesses, are Venture Capitalists really going to pick the one with a social story over an extra pip of profitability? Whilst we are seeing encouraging signs of growth within the Social Impact Investment world, if this fails to become mainstream practice then how will social enterprise ever be big enough to change the world?

Why Social Entrepreneurship Has Become a Distraction: It’s Mainstream Capitalism That Needs to Change

by Duncan Green

There is no doubt that the term “social entrepreneurship” served its purpose at one point in time, mainly because we needed to highlight what type of entrepreneurial practice we were referring to – but today it only serves to further dichotomise entrepreneurial practice into the “social” and the “commercial” (“non-social”?). Duncan argues that this creates a false separation between “this is where we make money, and this is where we do good”.  And that is EXACTLY what is wrong with capitalism today.

Let’s Stop Calling Everything ‘Social Entrepreneurship’

by Willy Foote

The term “disruptive innovation” is thrown around a lot these days. The term has strayed far from the original definition, widely misunderstood and its basic tenets frequently misapplied. Will the current idea de jour of “social entrepreneurship” follow a similar path? Indeed, has it already?

Tackling Heropreneurship

by Daniela Papi-Thornton

We are in an age of heropreneurship: everyone wants to “be” a social entrepreneur. The myth of the entrepreneur creates a false hierarchy with “start-up founder” at the top. We foster this obsession in our education, our funding, our awards, and our media. But we don’t just need more founders. This report is designed to help individuals, educators, and funders move us from a focus on the social entrepreneur to a focus on creating positive social impact.

6 Steps to Finance Your New Social Enterprise

by Lisa Curtis

You have a great business idea. All your friends say they would buy it. So now all you need is a little bit of capital to turn that idea to your first prototype. Raising money shouldn’t be that hard, right? Wrong. Despite what many think, financing a for-profit business is rarely easy. While for-profit social enterprises should ultimately be self-sustaining, they rarely begin that way. Instead, different types of fundraising are needed at different stages as the business grows.

4 Strategies for Making Your Social Enterprise Stand Out From the Crowd

by Christie Garton

For social enterprises to maximize their impact, they must effectively reach and activate their target audiences, something that’s more difficult than ever with the amount of likeminded companies competing for consumer attention. Here are four key ways to make sure your social impact gets noticed.

Four Key Tips for Running a Successful Social Enterprise

by Broede Carmody

A growing number of businesses are now social enterprises, created to solve social and environmental problems. They’re a growing phenomenon. But how do charitable businesses sustain themselves in the long term? SmartCompany spoke to entrepreneurs who have successfully started social enterprises and experts in the area to find out their top four tips on how to run a sustainable social enterprise.


Did I miss something? Are there any articles that you’ve read that you think should be part of this list? Share in the comments below.

11 Articles Every Social Entrepreneur Should Read

Jay

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12 comments

  • […] And you’re too busy.’ This newsletter is obviously the exception to the rule, along with 11 Articles Every Social Entrepreneur Should Read. Shoulda coulda […]

  • Hi Jay,

    These articles are great and I really like the concept behind this blog post. I saw this article being shared quite a bit on social media:-). I would be interested in what criteria you used in selecting the articles? Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Thandi, thank you for your kind words. In terms of criteria, these are simply insightful articles that I’ve read in the past and have stuck with me in one way or another. Social entrepreneurship is on the rise and as such is getting detailed coverage all over the web. While there are more in-depth, detailed and theoretical articles out there, I decided to select posts that are very informative and thought-provoking but, at the same time, aren’t overly complicated. You’ll also notice that I’ve picked articles covering a range of topics and issues: responsible business development, leadership, business ethics, marketing, social impact, economic systems, funding and finance, business model design, and enterprise operations. My aim was to share my ‘top picks’ of valuable articles about social entrepreneurship that are accessible and can be understood by a broad audience – seasoned social entrepreneurs, those just starting out, or anyone simply interested in learning more.

      • thanks for your reply. You certainly made some good choices with your articles. I really like this blog and will be following it. I am looking forward to your next post(s).

  • Save us from heroes. But not imagination, idealism, humble service and shrewd business management.

  • […] Nesse sentido, há um fenômeno de empreendimentos e empreendedores surgindo com propósito de fazer a diferença no mundo. Do mesmo modo é cada vez maior a quantidade de conteúdo disponível sobre o assunto. Pensando nisso, decidimos trazer os melhores artigos para você empreendedor poder navegar no universo dos negócios de impacto. Abaixo, você confere uma ótima seleção (que traduzimos para você) com  11 12 artigos feita por Jay Booklin da Social Good Stuff com o melhor sobre empreendedorismo social. Caso queira, o texto original em inglês você pode acessar aqui. […]

  • […] Nesse sentido, há um fenômeno de empreendimentos e empreendedores surgindo com propósito de fazer a diferença no mundo. Do mesmo modo é cada vez maior a quantidade de conteúdo disponível sobre o assunto. Pensando nisso, decidimos trazer os melhores artigos para você empreendedor poder navegar no universo dos negócios de impacto. Abaixo, você confere uma ótima seleção (que traduzimos para você) com  11 12 artigos feita por Jay Booklin da Social Good Stuff com o melhor sobre empreendedorismo social. Caso queira, o texto original em inglês você pode acessar aqui. […]

  • Evenyore would benefit from reading this post

  • Here’s my response to the Duncan Green (Pamela Hartigan?) article
    “Why Social Entrepreneurship Has Become a Distraction: It’s Mainstream Capitalism That Needs to Change”,

    http://onehealthorganisation.org/social-entrepreneurship-state-bossing-capitalism-right-reasons/

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