These days, it seems like an increasing number of entrepreneurs aren’t satisfied with simply trying to earn a lot of money. While generating a profit is certainly still an important part of their business, they want to do more. They want to change the world.
Of course, while many people know that they want to be a positive force for change, finding a way to accomplish this with your entrepreneurial endeavors can sometimes be easier said than done.
To that end, I recently spoke with Mike Kogan, ambassador relationship manager with Compel America. Compel America provides a wide variety of resources to help victims of bullying — as well as the bullies themselves — seek positive change. As Compel America and other startups have proven, it is possible to combine world-changing ideas and sound business sense.
Here’s how you can discover and fine-tune your socially conscious business ideas:
1) Use Your Own Observations
“Getting ideas for a ‘world-changing’ business doesn’t have to be all that different from how a typical entrepreneur approaches things,” Kogan explains.
“Using your own observations and experiences will often be the best starting point for generating ideas — especially if you have a personal connection to the cause you want to address.”
Consider the real-world problems you’ve encountered in your own day-to-day routine, as well as the issues affecting those around you. By making a list of the different things you’ve seen, you’ll be more likely to identify a problem that speaks to you and come across a business idea that can provide a meaningful solution.
2) Get Others’ Perspectives
While your own observations can serve as a great starting point, many of the best ideas come from brainstorming sessions. When you gather multiple like-minded people to discuss a problem, you can build off each person’s ideas and gain new insights that will help you develop a stronger business plan.
Better yet, these activities can serve as a valuable team-building opportunity as you prep your startup for launch. According to David Henningsen, a researcher at Northern Illinois University, “Groups that focus on both the quantity of ideas and building on the ideas of others significantly increase their cohesiveness … Brainstorming can be used to help a team buy into and implement a plan of action, or it can be used to simply build cohesiveness, which in turn can lessen employee turnover and increase employee commitment.”
3) Get Out of the Office
Chances are, you won’t come up with a world-changing idea while sitting at home at your desk — and while Google searches are helpful, they won’t always provide the detailed insight you need to generate an innovative idea. Instead, Kogan recommends that would-be world changers actively seek out and embrace new experiences.
“Creativity comes from having diverse life experiences,” he says.
“You might know of a particular issue that you want to address, but coming up with an innovative solution to the problem requires outside-the-box thinking. It’s so much easier to generate new ideas when you meet new people or open yourself up to new experiences.”
4) Potential For Good Everywhere
Your startup doesn’t have to be focused on social issues to make a positive impact in the world. Many entrepreneurs find success and generate change when they adopt a giving mindset.
Many companies give back through volunteer programs, charitable donations, and other community initiatives. Entrepreneurs can look for service opportunities in their local area or partner with charitable organizations to get involved in these activities.
These actions don’t have to be directly tied to your business activities, but there’s no denying that they make a big difference for everyone involved.
In fact, one study found “giving back is associated with greater employee retention, higher levels of brand ambassadorship on the part of workers, and more enthusiastic employees. Staffers who believe their organizations give back to the community are a striking 13 times more likely to look forward to coming to work.”
5) Find Your Why
Regardless of the issue you choose to address with your business, it is essential that you have deeper reasons for starting your company.
“A personal connection, a passion for creating change, is an absolute must for a socially-minded startup,” says Kogan. “Your ability to create change will only be as successful as the connection you feel with what your company aims to accomplish.”
Perhaps more than any other entrepreneurial niche, world-changing startups require the passion and emotional investment of their founders in order to succeed.
With this driven mindset, you’ll be able to work through the challenges that come with every startup so you can achieve meaningful change.
With creative thinking and the right mindset, you can turn practically any business idea into a force for good. As you identify ways that you can make a positive impact in the world around you, you’ll find greater meaning and motivation in your work, making it that much easier to continually give your best effort.