In my work at Fizzle, I see a number of common business plans from new entrepreneurs. One of the most common is the “business coach for mission-driven entrepreneurs” or the “consultant to social impact organizations.” People with services like:
Specialized coaching for purpose driven organizations and professionals looking for new outcomes.
They describe themselves in terms like:
Do you want to make a difference in the world with your business? Is your enterprise focused on a social agenda or personal mission? Would you like to make your living by making the world a better place? You can do well at doing good, and I can help.
I’m fascinated by companies like Patagonia and TOMS. I love organizations like Charity:Water, Pencils of Promise, and New Story. I hope every one of you supports all of these organizations and more like them.
On top of that, I’ve written about building a coaching practice. I ran a company trying to help graduating college students find jobs at companies like these.
In other words, I get it.
These stories have permeated our culture. We read about the founders of companies doing mission-driven work. We see lists of the top social impact entrepreneurs in the world.
And we think to ourselves: “How can I get close to this culture of change and positivity?”
The fastest path from here to there often takes one of the following routes:
- Go to work for one of these organizations
- Be a coach or consultant to these organizations
- Start one of these organizations
As you consider your options, you think about the sacrifices required for each. Going to work for one of these organizations seems so small. It seems insignificant.
“How can I make the impact I want to make if I just take an entry level role in customer service at TOMS?”
That’s not important enough.
As you think about the other options, you consider starting a company or a nonprofit. “I could start a nonprofit that builds homes for the homeless in Haiti. I could start a coffee company that ensures fair labor practices and a living wage for the coffee farmers whose coffee we sell.”
But that’s risky.
And so you’re left with becoming a coach or consultant. There’s a clear next step: get certified as a coach. And there’s a clear market: social impact organizations!
Perhaps you could even do it on the side of your day job for a while to see if it will work out. Just think of the possibilities!
You could work with TOMS to recommend a new product line. They’ll figure out how to implement it.
You could work with Whole Foods to expand the number of ingredients on their banned ingredients list. Sure, they employ people to do this full time, but you’ll find a way.
You could tell New Story about how to build a better social media strategy. Never mind they don’t have the staff to do it; it’s not a big deal to add to the overhead costs with head count.
Just think of the client portfolio you could have five years from now. And imagine all of the talks you’d be able to give if you could just work with a few big names.
Now that’s more like it.
But that’s magical thinking. The reality is much more down to earth.
There aren’t enough social entrepreneurs on the planet for every “social impact coach” to have one client, let alone make enough money to have a sustainable business.
I’ve been thinking hard on this problem for a few weeks now and there’s really only one solution that comes to mind: we don’t need any more coaches or gurus. We need more practitioners.
If every “social impact coach” went off and started a social enterprise, the world would be in much better shape. Sure, many will fail (like all businesses), but some will succeed and the results will be important change.
Perhaps many of those future-founders would first go to work for social enterprises to cut their teeth. Just think of how valuable their coaching and consulting skills would be to the organizations internally. Now, instead of coaching “mission-driven entrepreneurs” they would actually be helping to further the mission directly.
Don’t be a coach. Don’t be a guru. We have enough of those.
The world would be better off if you joined or started the kind of organization you admire so much. It might seem like a sacrifice in the short-term, but it might be the most important work you can do.
So, what do you say? Pick a problem. Get to work. We need you to create change, not just read about it.