Why You Should DO Social Entrepreneurship Instead of Study It Formally
This is no shade to education (you already know I LOVE it!). There are just some things that our current education systems can’t do well, and one of those is social enterprise. I’m going to share 3 reasons why I hold that opinion and some ways you can get the social entrepreneurship information you need informally.
The first 2 reasons why you should do social enterprise rather than study it are partially informed by my favorite podcaster, Omar Zenhom. While his $100MBA Show podcast focuses on general business and entrepreneurship principles, there were a few gems that could be easily adapted to social entrepreneurship.
If you’d like to hear his original words, make sure you look up $100MBA Show on your podcast provider. The episode to which I’m referring is #384 Should You Go To Business School?, which you can only get on your device if you subscribe and go to the feed.
Anyway, on with the post!
#1: The education system is slow.
Omar, who was a teacher himself for many years points out that the education system takes a long time to keep up with societal change. If you think about it, that’s probably why it was such a big deal for the first Black child to enter an all-White school. It was a massive statement of the inevitability of integration, and it was literally made a Federal case!
Consider your position as a social entrepreneur. Do you need to learn in a formal classroom all the ways that the Separate But Equal Doctrine was problematic and the established ways to combat it? By the time you listed all the ways, more injustice would have occurred, and your carefully crafted solutions are no longer relevant.
The heart of social entrepreneurship is the ability to respond to your community as well as your managing your profitability. You have two bottom lines that depend upon your remaining nimble.
#2: Business school is for employees, not entrepreneurs.
That’s not exactly what Omar said, but that’s my interpretation. He did point out that the pursuit of an MBA is to prove your qualifications for middle management and that the idea of entrepreneurship being taught in business school arrived on the scene as recently as the 90s. What were entrepreneurs doing before the 90s? They were DOING entrepreneurship rather than learning it formally.
They didn’t nor do they now have a monopoly on entrepreneurship, especially not social entrepreneurship.
I was recently considering getting an MBA because I thought that’s what I needed to do to be a business person, but I couldn’t find a program that was as socially-minded as I’d like. That was probably due to the fact of #1 that the education system is slow AND that one can’t really learn compassion and empathy in a classroom.
These traits are only learned through observing or experiencing injustice. Considering that the social mission and the ability to rapidly adapt to a changing market are essential to social entrepreneurship, business schools just don’t make the grade (pun intended!).
#3: Your lived experience could be the catalyst for social change.
Speaking of compassion and empathy, you might currently or have been your target audience. No formal education can teach you how it feels to experience injustice, so take that experience and be the change you want to see in the world. You might actually have a traditionally counter-intuitive solution to a social issue because you understand the underlying reasons for its existence.
For example, I was the first in my (adopted) family to attend and graduate from both undergraduate and graduate school. Who better than I to engineer programs that address the underlying fears of first-time college students, especially first-time college students of color? I knew that attending a non-historically Black college or university would mean being even more of a minority than I already am.
That’s why I designed the Guided Pathway Support (GPS <- great title, right?!) program for the Ron Brown Scholar Fund that identified and worked to mitigate the biggest underlying problems for African-Americans attending and graduating from college: inherent risk, lack of peer networks, and the rural/urban divide.
I wrote about it in A Case Study in Core Values: Cultural Competence. While it is a nonprofit program, the point is that I who have first-hand knowledge of struggle can create something that works to prevent or counter-act that struggle for others like me. Why not you?
So you know that just by being you and paying attention, you can be a social entrepreneur. Now what? Check out these resources to get a jump start on your social entrepreneurship journey.
- $100MBA Podcast: Free 10 minute business lessons for the real-world. You can also join his $100MBA Community for complete business training via online videos and worksheets for, you guessed it, $100.
- Deep Work by Cal Newport: A great book on optimizing your productivity to create meaningful work and long-lasting value to the world.
- Katbloomfield.com: That’s right, I created this blog specifically to help others on their social entrepreneurship journey because there just aren’t that many resources available for true social entrepreneurship. Stay tuned for a brand new coaching course and online community I’m going to build to help social entrepreneurs like you create a sustainable, culturally responsive social enterprise that not only addresses societal issues, but supports you and your dreams in the process.
For now, sign up for my mailing list to make sure you never miss a post or special downloadables you can use to convert that knowledge into action.