Social entrepreneurship is getting a lot of attention these days.
A social entrepreneur is one who starts a business that undertakes bold, innovative solutions for social problems that he or she cares about, such as the problem of poverty, the lack of access to health care or high unemployment among job seekers with disabilities.
Normally, government is charged with promoting social issues. However, a social startup is doing a service to society because government lacks money to solve all social problems.
Every business faces challenges, such as the challenge to efficiently reach its customers with a product at a fair price. But I think social entrepreneurs running for-profit/for-social benefit businesses face unique challenges.
A challenge that I face as a social entrepreneur is clinching deals with a variety of partners across the United States.
My business model relies on partners across the United States to reach target customers fast. I’ve found that the best partners are government agencies or not-for-profit businesses that currently provide services to my target customers.
I bet there are social startups out there founded by Apostrophe readers, and I wonder how many of them seek partners early to expand their businesses faster.
Here are my ideas on clinching deals with partners:
First, answer questions that need to be answered
Know your product or service inside out and become an expert in it.
What is your market, who are your customers? Does a competitive product or service exist? What potential business partners could you work with? What do they need?
It’s best to answer these questions before meeting with a potential partner. I learned that I had to do this for my business to be effective. Of course I did not have all the answers. So, I had to do some research. Everyday I learn something new.
Trust is the most important component of clinching a deal with a potential partner. You have to get to know a prospective partner and let him/her know you. It is like meeting a new friend or classmate for the first time. I take time to meet with new folks, potential partners almost everyday. I love to do that. But building trust takes time and patience. It doesn’t come overnight.
When the time is right, clinch the deal
If you are confident about your product or service AND understand the needs of your potential partner, then clinch the deal by asking for the partnership:
How can we partner? Where do we go from here? What steps could we take today?
You have to be brave to ask the question. Being confident, I have the ability to do this. If you don’t, work on developing that skill.
Clinching deals with potential partners isn’t easy. Just keep your head up, be positive and get to work!
Nothing is more rewarding than having the opportunity to make things happen for the community I serve.
Are you ready to take the next step in growing your business?