Changing your mindset from
Firstly, what is social entrepreneurship? Wikipedia defines it as, “the attempt to draw upon business techniques and private sector approaches to find solutions to social, cultural or environmental problems.” So why should you care and why is this the future? Allow me to expound.
Social Entrepreneurship is Sustainable
Global recession after global recession of first world economies that used to be seemingly infallible along with history teaches us that Capitalism, as it stands, is not a sustainable model. It needs a poor base to support the wealth of another group. In other words, valuable raw materials have to be extracted from their origins for little or no cost, which is exploitation at its best. Hence the old adage, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. The problem with that is as the wealth gap widens, political stability weakens, creating volatile markets that spell disaster for any economy.
Social entrepreneurship poses a solution to a problem which has been widely and wrongly touted as too complex to address. Social enterprise generally focuses on disenfranchised segments of society that can’t obtain socioeconomic equilibrium without outside help. But it does so in a way in which everyone wins. Here’s an example, shea butter comes from a plant that requires intensive physical labor to harvest. A lot of companies that sell this product pay their laborers unlivable wages and export it elsewhere to be processed. There is a handful of companies, however, who have taken a different approach. They pay decent wages to skilled workers and allow them to process the materials meaning that more money stays in their community, helping to build their local economy and the consumer gets in some cases an even higher quality product than they would otherwise. The company also makes a profit, it may not be at an obscene profit margin, but there will be profit nonetheless.
It Empowers the Consumer
As social consciousness comes to the forefront, more people want to know where their goods are coming from and the working conditions of the workers who produce them. It’s called economic activism. If you come from a more affluent society, it’s fair to say that your choice of consumer goods is almost endless. Social enterprise allows the consumer to make the choice to use their purchasing power in a way that can really benefit the disenfranchised. Supporting the work of skilled workers pays back in spades and the benefits workers and consequently their communities in a way that welfare or any other kind of “handout” program ever could. It is a spark that ignites possibility in an otherwise oppressive situation.
It Makes the World a Better Place
Excuse the cliché headline but it’s actually true. Gandhi once said that poverty was the worst possible form of violence. Think about that. Crime is the highest in impoverished areas and wars are started between nations over resources that are used to maintain the inequitable status quo. A more equitable society is a safer one, a more just one, a better one.
As an idealist, it would be easy to ignore any downside, but for the sake of any skeptics out there, I won’t. The downside is that there is a cost associated with creating a more equitable society. Smaller profit margins mean that the cost of production will be passed onto the business and ultimately the consumer. That being said, paying a few extra dollars for that jar of shea butter is more than worth it if it means less poverty, less crime, and an ultimately brighter future for people who had no say about what they were born into.
If you are wondering how to stress less and get more done at work, look no further than your cluttered workspace to find a likely root of the issue. A chaotic workspace usually lends to a chaotic head space. Organizing is one of the first and most important steps to increasing your productivity. Here a few tips to create a space that will help keep you focused and efficient.
First, purge and create a space you love. Get a big trash can and throw things out! This may sound a bit daunting to do in an overcrowded space but think of it as a meditation. The more clear space, the more you can breathe. The more you can breathe, the more you can tackle the day’s work with a clear, focused mind. Once you’ve completed the purge, add personal touches. It’s hard to mess up a space that’s beautiful – you’ll think twice about piling up papers to block pictures of your loved one or that piece of art you love looking at throughout the day. And since most of us spend the same amount of time or even more at the office as we do at home treat just like that, you’re second home. It may sound simplistic, but how you value a space can determine how you care for it.
Second, get organized. Create a space for anything and everything you use on a daily basis and break out that label maker. Just admit it, organized chaos really isn’t a thing and even if it was, sifting through the chaos is extremely time consuming. You could be spending precious brain power on the task ahead instead of trying to remember where you put that “oh-so-important” document amongst the pile of “do-not-forgets”. Having a place for everything means you’ll know exactly where things are when you need them. End result equals more productive work hours.
Third, create secondary spaces within your space. Think of them as work zones. While one zone can be for computer work, another could be for non-computer work. Equip each area with the things you need for that specific work within arm’s reach. Keeping a more ergonomic space also means you won’t unnecessarily strain yourself physically doing the day to day tasks and a body at ease also means a mind at ease.
Fourth, refresh your space weekly. No matter how organized you are, things are bound to get a bit messy, especially in a fast-paced, high pressure work environment. Schedule a weekly time to reorganize and fix everything that will inevitably get out of whack. The long and short of it is, if you don’t let things pile up an organized space is that much easier to maintain.
The task of organizing may seem overwhelming initially, but once the first step is taken, the rest is a downhill journey and the rewards can benefit beyond you work hours. Not only will find yourself more productive during the work day, you’ll find yourself able to go home with a clearer mind. No need to stress over that thing you forgot to do that was hiding in the pile of things you were afraid to touch.
By Leslie Banks
Professional sports teams have them. High School Teams have them. Even departments in many large and mid-sized companies have them. But, what about the small one- or two-person operations? My hunch is not so much. Growing up in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s as the child of two successful entrepreneurs, I know that there can be so many things that are more important than sitting down and pounding out a how-to manual for running a small company – even a small biz that is generating large revenues. My dad, a real estate developer and mortgage banker handled millions of dollars; my mom, an interior designer managed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Aside from a full-time secretary (dad) and a part-time design assistant, and the occasional intern (mom), neither parent had a play book – an operations manual that described the business and/or how it functioned. Thankfully, neither was ever out of the country or out of commission long enough to require that someone step in and take full command of the ship, but had such a need ever arisen, I don’t know what either of my parents would have done.
For Better, For Worse
By the way it’s not just a protracted illness or serious injury that could cause a small business to come to a grinding halt in the absence of its chief. Imagine that, following a genius YouTube video, Tweet or other social media event that links directly to your business goes viral, your phone starts blowing up, at precisely the time you have to be….anywhere but at your headquarters taking calls, orders, or what have you. Imagine that while you are handling the business you do have, you can’t possibly accommodate the new customers beating down your door. What if, just for a few hours or days or weeks, you needed someone to come in and help manage the boon, but you had no time for any major training sessions; you just needed someone to come in and get their arms around a task or project, just until the job was done or things settled down. Whether you call a temp agency or your cousin’s wife’s step-brother, without some direction, without a playbook you would have to divert time and energy from handling the business you already have to teaching the help how to do what you need them to do.
But, what if in your time of need, the help that arrived had a manual- instructions on how to handle the work that needs to be done? What if you had a play book? Maybe not for every, miniscule work that your business entailed, but for tasks that could be handled by someone other than you while did other stuff, or were off someplace else?
How it Works
A company play book or operations manual need not be complicated, or require reams of paper. It can be as simple or elaborate as needed to explain how a job is done. For example, if you’re in a business that involves any type of on-boarding of new clients, what is the process? How is their data captured: on a paper form, in a computer database? What are the next steps: the scheduling of a consultation? Where do the next steps happen: in your office? At the client’s office? On the other hand, maybe you already have a filing system, either paper or digital, but business has been booming, there’s a mountain of paperwork that has to be filed or scanned into a database and there is just no way you can get to it, but it has to get done because you’re about to launch a special promotion and each sheet of paper in your mountain is a potential customer that must be targeted in the promotion. The help you need has arrived and with the instructions contained in the play book the job can get done with little or no supervision.
One other benefit of a play book, aside from needing short- or long-term help, is that it ensures consistency and uniformity in how things are done. A play book can help ensure that all clients or jobs are treated equally. Furthermore, it can help you or perhaps a business coach or consultant identify areas or procedures in your operation that work well and/or that need improvement. It can also demonstrate a needed level of professionalism, if for example a potential client or customer or investor or attorney or insurer wants to see evidence of your operation or company policies. That play book is the evidence that you take your business seriously. Finally, a play book, or certain sections of the book can serve as the basis for a capability statement or request for a proposal.
How it Looks
As I said, a play book need not be elaborate. If you’re the analog type, a binder with tabs is a good place to start. Begin with a general overview of the business, a list of the names and contact numbers and email addresses of the owner and anyone else with decision-making and check-writing authority. Maybe a simple flow chart of the operation, just to provide an overview of how things work would be in order. Next, you might want a tab for any job that has a specific process to complete. For example, if your business involves taking orders on a paper form, include a blank master copy of the form and another, labeled SAMPLE to serve as anexample of howit is to be filled out when an order is taken. Or, if you provide a service that keeps you out in the field, like a landscaping business with clients who have standing orders for weekly lawn maintenance, you might want to include a client list with phone numbers, addresses and the weekly services you provide, along with a service calendar. If your company relies on supplies or inventory to function, you would absolutely need a directory of all suppliers, or vendors, the names of the individuals with whom you have direct dealings, a list of the key items you purchase, how you make your orders, and terms of payment. If you are the digital type, your manual can be saved on a hard drive and even uploaded to the cloud, say in Google Docs or Drop Box. Ideally you should have both hard and digital copies of your manual.
In terms of some unforeseen misfortune, may you never need a play book for the purpose of handing over the reins of your business because you are out of commission. On the other hand, in the event that your business is booming, so much so, that you need a few extra hands to keep things running smoothly, may you have the tools you need to ensure that everything is handled properly.
Whatever business you’re in, the smaller the operation, the more you need to have a play book, a manual that describes and/or illustrates the business and how it works. As things evolve, as your business grows or changes, so too can the book.