How to make your plans for growth as a social entrepreneur

How to make your plans for growth as a social entrepreneur

Author: Paula Beudean, Danis Foundation (Romania)

Published on: 2022/01/24


Through the Social Entrepreneurship in Local Communities project, we promote the human-centered approach not only because it brings your clients to the core of your product or service development, but mostly because it brings people to the core of your business. And when we say people, we refer to your clients, business partners, employees, stakeholders, and, first and foremost – YOU – the social entrepreneur. There is no social business without a social entrepreneur ready to take the initiative of tackling a social problem through a creative business model. So are you ready?


You do not have to be the perfect entrepreneur before starting your business

Many entrepreneurs postpone the implementation of their social business idea because they feel they need to learn more or be more before starting their enterprise. For sure, you know already this: nobody is perfect, life is a continuous learning process, and definitely you will never be the ideal entrepreneur because there is not such a thing. Everyone is missing something. But there are people you can add to your team, and there are resources you can mobilize from your community to start your social business and make it run.

Some social entrepreneurs might still be at the stage of wondering what they are missing to be an entrepreneur. Here is a place to start: The EntreComp – The Entrepreneurship Competence Framework built by the European Commission (2016) as part of helping EU citizens develop their entrepreneurial capacity.

Explore The EntreComp and the 15 most relevant entrepreneurial competences grouped in three competences areas:

  • Area 1. Ideas and opportunities: spotting opportunities, creativity, vision, valuing ideas, and ethical and sustainable thinking.
  • Area 2. Resources: self-awareness and self-efficacy, motivation and perseverance, mobilizing resources, financial and economic literacy, mobilizing others.
  • Area 3. Into action: taking the initiative, planning and management, coping with uncertainty, ambiguity, and risk, working with others, learning through experience.

Run a self-assessment, going through the full descriptions of the competences. Take the time to understand the competences you already possess and you can count on. Then, see the competences you miss or need to improve. Finally, decide which ones you would like and could develop, and what competences you might think other members of your team could bring in the business… and make a growth plan.


Me in the bigger picture – a visual thinking self-reflection and planning tool

Inspired by W. Brand’s visual thinking tool from Visual Doing (2018) book, we propose you try out the self-reflection and planning tool Me in the bigger picture.

Print out the framework template – we recommend using an A3 or A2 paper sheet or drawing a similar framework on a flipchart paper sheet. Take your markers, crayons, or pencils, and get ready to express yourself visually. Do not worry about your drawing skills, and fully trust your visual brain that will help you express differently and creatively, synthesize information, and better visualize who you are and what you would like to become in the future.

Start with Key Moments from your past that brought you to this moment of becoming a social entrepreneur. Think about four-eight relevant moments. These could be anything relevant to you and your social entrepreneurship initiative, starting from your childhood to now. These could be good or bad moments – just choose the most relevant ones that made you what you are today and got you into this idea of starting this specific social business. Find the suitable symbols or images to express these key moments.

Continue with Me – draw your self-portrait. Think of your qualities, skills, dreams, mission, etc. How do you look when you are ‘wearing’ all these dreams, qualities, abilities, skills, knowledge, and so on? How do you imagine yourself?

Then, go to Me in the Big Picture. Draw yourself in the general context you live: your family, friends, business partners, the big community. How would you visually represent your connections to all these people, the community, relevant stakeholders for your idea? Which connections are stronger? Which ones are more relevant? How will you draw that? Understand that you are not alone, and see on whom you can count, or maybe explore the competition as well if this is really relevant in your growth plans.

Finally, move into Future Me. That’s another self-portrait. But this time, imagine yourself in the next two or three years. What will you look like? What new qualities, skills, abilities, knowledge, dreams, missions, connections, etc., will you ‘wear’?

Now that you know where you want to get and what you want to be, make the plan. Start with the big things you would like accomplished in the next two-three years. Move into your actionable goals of the first year, and go into details of the next six months.

Final advice: do not rush into the process. Take your time, even a couple of days or a week, to work on this self-reflection and planning exercise. Don’t be shy in using as many papers as you need, improve your drawings and fully express yourself.