Five reasons social enterprises fail: from obsessive founders to ‘perfect’ plans

Monday, July 1, 2013

By Matthew Cain

My start-up failure and my studies of success have taught me, contrary to many autobiographies, that entrepreneurship isn’t a mystical combination of luck, personality or hard-won experience. Some ideas work and others don’t.

Yet behind many successful social enterprises you’ll find a method that reduces their chance of failure and it confronts many of the sloppy myths about starting a social enterprise.

Here are five lessons I have learned about why social enterprises fail.

1. The lovestruck founder

Social entrepreneurs are often driven by passion, they’ve found a new way to tackle an old problem and everyone they speak to gets excited by their vision. They’re convinced that as soon as their innovation has been released their enterprise will take off. Love makes the world look rosy.

The lovestruck founder is blinded by innovation. They’re so hooked on their idea they can’t see how others manage without it. They hope budget lines will be created to fit their product, they want to bend others to their will and they often wait longer than is healthy for this to take place.

Successful social entrepreneurs have passion but it’s not for their idiosyncratic idea or the way they do business. It’s for fixing a problem, providing a solution. They are passionate about reaching the destination, not their particular patented route.

Source: The Guardian (link opens in a new window)

business development, social enterprise