In speaking with a number of social entrepreneurs lately, the topic of what to do when you’re not yet making a full time income has come up. While you could get a part time job to close the gap, many social entrepreneurs have put so much time and money and care into growing their businesses that they’d really prefer not to. What do you do if you want to take your part time income to full time – without compromising your values?
I’d like to offer these 3 suggestions if you are making some money from your work focused on positive social change but it’s not yet a full time livelihood.
1) Revisit who your ideal client/customer is. If you’ve been working on your venture for some time, but not yet making a full time income, I recommend circling back around to your ideal client or customer. What are her/his challenges? What are some nuances about your ideal client’s situation that you might not have talked about before? Dialing this in with a little more clarity will help you in increasing the effectiveness of your marketing, creating offers that are easier to sell, etc.
2) Revisit your marketing strategies. Once you’ve come to a clearer understanding of your ideal client, I encourage you to speak more directly to what s/he is dealing with. Sometimes social entrepreneurs are reluctant to speak to challenges or difficulties directly due to a fear of being manipulative. However, your ideal client or customer has a lot on their mind. Speak kindly and directly to the exact situation they find themselves in and you’ll find your revenue increasing. Also, consider where your ideal client spends time when you decide where to focus your marketing resources (time, money, etc).
3) Revisit your business model. If you’ve got a clear understanding of who your ideal client is and the issues she’s facing and your speaking to this in a regular way, you’re likely to be getting on the radar of a good number of people. If they are buying but it’s not yet enough to make a full time income, you might benefit from taking a look at your business model. For instance, one social entrepreneur I worked with recently was making lots of sales but the average sale was a small dollar amount. We added 2 offerings focused on the needs of larger organizations and that got her over the threshold of a full time income.
There are a number of factors that come together to create a sustainable full time income when you are a social entrepreneur. If your venture isn’t quite “there yet” in terms of liveable income, I recommend taking an honest look at these 3 areas – your ideal client/customer, your marketing, and your business model. A little work to dial in these 3 areas has helped dozen of my clients move from doing good work but struggling to making a full time income with work that’s highly aligned with their values.