You can deliver on a mission many different ways. But an organization without one won’t likely do much.
That’s why before you have a product or process, you need to have a point.
To Detroit Bus Company founder Andy Didorosi, solving the right problem is the key to any successful small business, especially if it’s a social mission, like his. In this case, Didorosi’s bus company was launched to expand public transportation options in Detroit. It was a business idea with a social cause.
“You need to also find out the reasons why you are doing what you are doing,” he said. If you are doing it because it just looks cool or you think it’s fun, you’re going to burn out really quick. If you’re doing it because you care about the need that you are trying to fulfill you can get though a lot of those dark moments.”
Are you trying to deliver the most addictive mobile game experience to help make people happy? Do you want to build exceptional software? Would you like to develop an unrivaled ecommerce experience?
Those are valuable technical challenges to address. Many alternately look at cultural and social problems as a chance for entrepreneurship too.
Detroit SOUP Director Amy Kaherl is one of the many entrepreneurs in her city across the country combining tech tools with long-standing methods of helping to address her city’s deeply-rooted challenges. She’s combining innovative crowdfunding with traditional community potlucks. “We can look at Detroit’s problems and use the resources that have always been here with our own outlook,” she said.
For Laurin Hodge, her mission in 2012 to develop employment opportunities for citizens returning from incarceration developed into Mission: Launch. The Washington D.C. based nonprofit supports returning citizens in developing their own businesses and advocates on their behalf.
Before Laurin’s mother Teresa went to prison for fraud and related crimes, Laurin said she knew virtually nothing about the U.S. criminal justice system.
“Going through the process with her opened up our eyes,” Laurin said. “And prison and reentry are things that, truthfully, either you’re a saint to care about or you only care about it [when it] happens to you.”
She was exposed to a challenging issue and sought to solve it — not unlike an app developer or software entrepreneur. She started with a mission, to support people like her mother in developing second chances, and then an organization developed because of it.
“We began to see just the importance of strategy development and having a plan for people when they come back home,” she said. “That has nothing to do with a conversation of innocence or guilt.”
But the mission started first.
The point is that your mission’s language might tighten but its core goals likely won’t, so start with purpose.
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