Momentum for social entrepreneurship is exploding. Every year, more and more people are working on businesses and organizations designed to improve the world. As we look forward to the rest of 2013 and the continued expansion of the field, here’s a list of resolutions that social entrepreneurs should be thinking about.
If you aren’t talking to your users, you’re doing it wrong. Find ways to engage your clients in program, product, and service design. The only way to be relevant is to ensure that you are grounded in the realities of your audiences. And remember that their needs change over time—you should be changing with them.
The social and environmental challenges we are trying to address are often symptoms of unhealthy systems. Try to go a layer deeper in your search for impact. If you can solve the problem that’s causing the problem, you’ll be two steps ahead.
The truth hurts. But it is super helpful. Find ways to get feedback on your work and on your performance as a team member. Create metrics that produce meaningful data for your unique situation and make sure to act on your findings.
We all have a deep emotional connection to our work. But project success isn’t the right goal. You need to focus on the impact of your work. Whether that means refining, pivoting, or torching, do what you must to serve the greater good.
The challenges we face will not be addressed by any single initiative. The most successful among us embrace our connections to complementary ventures. Identify who is in your ecosystem and find ways to plug into their efforts. Affiliating with others helps to secure your position while moving the needle with greater effect.
Humans enjoy sleep and sunlight and exercise, and also food and other people. Too many social entrepreneurs forget to pay attention to their personal well-being. Take a break from work and have some fun. You should look after yourself because it’s really the most important thing.
Even better, connect where you live. Our local neighborhoods are the building blocks of a more sustainable world. Shop where you live. Support local artists. Do at least one thing to connect your neighborhood and, in doing so, connect the world.
I know, you give at the office. But many of us are working on projects that are two or three steps removed from those in greatest need. Find ways to perform genuine service this year. Your time spent volunteering may have the greatest impact of anything you do—and your commitment to others will connect you to the world in surprising ways.
The difference between those that do and those that do not often boils down to a willingness to take a chance. Let this be the year that you step out on a limb. Walk into the unknown and trust that the pathway will appear. You’ll never know unless you try.
The world moves ahead when people create new things. Resolve to make something new in 2013. Something that could only happen because you made it happen. You have it in you.
Eli Malinsky is executive director of the new Centre for Social Innovation in New York City.