5 Lessons Learned: 1st annual Social Entrepreneurship Conference

Social Entrepreneurship

Social Entrepreneurship

If you want to create a better world and a stronger economy, then you’ll want to read on to gain valuable insights about social entrepreneurs, networking, why failure is a gift, and resources available to entrepreneurs and small businesses from the sponsors of this event.

In 2011, I was speaking at a local networking event and met Andrew Kolikoff, Founding principal of Synergy Sales & Marketing, who excitedly handed me his business card with a note. The note had a link to his blog which contained something similar to what I mentioned in my talk about if the WHY is BIG enough, the HOW will follow. We had both been inspired by this popular TED talk “Simon Sinek – Start With Why” and have stayed in touch ever since we bonded about the power of asking “WHY?”.
Simon Sinek
Once I found out Andrew would be the keynote speaker with a talk titled: “The Gift of Failure” I was intrigued. I checked out the event description* to see if it would be worth spending a day there or if I should just attend his keynote. Luckily, I decided to register quickly as it turned out I was the100th person to sign up with only 100 seats available.
1st lesson learned: Don’t take too long to decide because popular events can sell out fast.
My main reason (my why) for attending was to discover more information about my target audience, the social entrepreneur.
2nd lesson learned: Figure out your intention (not your agenda) to determine if the why is BIG enough to spend your valuable time at an event.
On my way to the event, I thought about if I considered myself a social entrepreneur** which I answered with an enthusiastic “YES!” As a branding strategist, I help clean up the communication planet which in turn helps the social entrepreneurs reach more people and enjoy more fruitful results.
3rd lesson learned: Don’t limit yourself with labels so you can enable yourself to think about the bigger picture.
Upon arrival, I ran into a handful of people that I haven’t seen in awhile, gained 3 potential clients, and met savvy, diverse entrepreneurs who had various reasons for attending, along with hearing different definitions of a what a social entrepreneur is.
4th lesson learned: Attend events where the audience is bonded by the topic so you can naturally network and learn from each other.
During the keynote, I realized that a lot of people are afraid to talk about failure and were uncomfortable about the conversation that was happening. Uncomfortableness is an important sign of a need to examine and/or change your thoughts. Andrew pointed out that there is a BIG difference between failure and fear of failure. Failure is an important topic especially since the best entrepreneurs know how to fail fast. The reality is that you may fail or lose a lot, but you can still achieve BIG wins!

5th lesson learned: Face the fear and walk through it, so you can see what’s on the other side.

In closing, I’d like to thank all the expert entrepreneurs who generously shared their time, knowledge and lessons learned along with all of the collaborators who made this event happen. In addition to delivering on thier event brand promise: unconventional, interactive, informative and inspiring; the event turned out to be a successful collaboration between the Maricopa Small Business Development Center, SEED SPOT, Wells Fargo, the SBA, and the Maricopa Community Colleges and it was great to see so many people from our communities interested in or already involved in social entrepreneurship.


*event description* This will be an event for people to plug into the social entrepreneurship community, find out about the resources available, connect and learn from other social entrepreneurs, learn how social entrepreneurs solve problems, create a buzz for future events, and kick off to keep the momentum going in the community. The agenda is going to be unconventional, interactive, informative and inspiring.

**social entrepreneur** Social entrepreneurs put passion and purpose over profit. They believe in concepts like the ‘triple bottom line’ (people, planet, profit). Social entrepreneurs drive social innovation and transformation in various fields including education, health, environment and enterprise development. They pursue poverty alleviation goals with entrepreneurial zeal, business methods and the courage to innovate and overcome traditional practices.
Social Entrepreneurship
Event information source: http://maricopa-sbdc.com/arizona/
Event sponsor information (America’s Small Business Development Center, AZSBDC, Maricopa Community Colleges, SBA, Seed Spot Phoenix and Wells Fargo):
  1. America’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) network helps aspiring entrepreneurs to start new businesses and assists existing businesses to remain competitive in the complex marketplace of an ever-changing global economy.
  2. With 8 locations in Maricopa County, AZSBDC provides services to anyone who owns, operates a business or is planning to start a business. They are a community resource that provides regular training and free one-on-one counseling. The SBDC is dedicated to the development and success of Maricopa’s small business owners. If you would like to learn more about their workshops click here or to schedule an appointment with a Business Analyst please contact them here.
  3. The Maricopa Community Colleges are 10 colleges, 2 skill centers plus numerous education centers, all dedicated to educational excellence and to meeting the needs of businesses and the citizens of Maricopa County. Each college is individually accredited, yet part of a larger system – the Maricopa County Community College District, which is one of the largest providers of higher education in the United States
  4. SBA.gov is the official website for the U.S. Small Business Administration, dedicated to providing support to small businesses across the nation.
  5. Seed Spot is a nonprofit incubator focused on supporting Arizona’s most innovative social entrepreneurs; those creating high impact ventures that improve lives of people and communities on a local, national, or global scale. If you would like to see their ventures in action, you can attend their next “Venture Friday” which is open to all community members every Friday at 11am: http://seedspot.org/events/
  6. Wells Fargo is a provider of banking, mortgage, investing, credit card, insurance, and consumer and commercial financial services.

Here is more information about Social Entrepreneurs (#SocEnt):
Everyday there are a group of business owners that ask a simple question. How can I build a business while solving the world’s problems? This is the core of Social Entrepreneurship and what unites one of the fastest growing communities of small business owners.

Social Entrepreneurship is a fast growing industry and has started driving even US legislation changes for the creation of a new legal business entity, Benefit Corporation or the B Corp status. While this is a parallel concept to that of an S Corp or C Corp, a B Corp must meet a set of rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. There are currently 12 US states that have passed the legislation for B Corp status and 14 are working on it, Arizona is one of them. In the US and Canada, certified B Corps that are for profit social enterprises generated $2.9 billion in revenues in 2012 alone.
Source: AZSBDC


I hope you are starting to realize that you are communicating your brand every day, in every way.
Just be you, fulfill what you promise and always give your best. Kathy

Do you consider yourself a social entrepreneur? Share your thoughts below!

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