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Why You Should Work for a Social Enterprise

by Kathleen Kelly Janus

Today, it’s becoming more and more apparent that we’re not content with commuting to a 9-5 job, mindlessly putting in the hours, and returning home only to do it all over again the next day. Instead, the case could be made that we’re looking for something more: making a positive impact on this world, one idea, trial, and pivot at a time. Recent studies show that 94 percent of Americans want to use their skills to benefit a cause–that’s 94 percent of people who know that they too can be changemakers.

Social entrepreneurship has been on the rise for the last half decade, with more and more consumers turning toward ethical brands, and more and more talent seeking to join a team that aims to make an impact. But what exactly is a social enterprise? Simply put, a social enterprise is a for-profit or nonprofit organization that uses innovation to improve human and environmental well-being. Whether you’re headed for a cap and gown or looking to make a career shift, consider these reasons why you should work for a social enterprise. My guess is you won’t be sorry!


You can work in an environment where innovation is the norm.

In my new book, Social Startup Success, I have an entire chapter dedicated to failure: what it is, what it isn’t, and why it’s not just inevitable, but crucial to the success of a social enterprise. Here’s the thing: some of the most successful social enterprises have reframed the way they think about failure. Failure is the learning curve. Failure is innovation at its finest. I think that’s one of the many perks of joining a social enterprise: the freedom to fail, take risks, and produce even more creative ideas until you land on one that’s truly transformation–one that can change lives.


You can find your ideal role.

So you’re just out of college, not exactly sure where to go next. Maybe you’ll dabble in marketing, or maybe project management. That’s the beauty of a social enterprise: many have small, hands-on teams that allow you to get your hands dirty in any and all places. With a small team, your role can often morph many times until you land in the perfect position. For those who want variety in their day-to-day lives, a social enterprise could be the perfect fit.


You can act like an owner.

Every successful founder will tell you they couldn’t possibly have made their idea work if it weren’t for the incredible work of their staff. Those same founders might also say that their success is in part due to something called “collective leadership,” where founders allow their team to take on a leadership position of their own. If you’ve ever craved an organizational culture that energizes you with a sense of purpose, trust, and appreciation, you may be looking for that of a social enterprise.


You can play a role in changing our tomorrow.

The great unknown is often thrilling, especially when it comes to a social enterprise. What if you could work in a position that allows you to create opportunities that don’t yet exist? Imagine being the driving force behind a future where sustainability and ethics are at the core of every business, or a world where no child went hungry. These are the opportunities presented by working for a social enterprise–every day is a new chance to change the world as we know it.


You can’t ignore the facts.

Recent studies have found that core to job satisfaction levels is the opportunity to make an impact, and with 60 percent of U.S. social enterprises being created in 2006 or later, and 29 percent created since 2011, there have never been more chances to join an organization that speaks to you. In the same study, two-thirds of the graduating university students said that making a difference in their next job was a priority, and 45 percent said they would accept a lower salary to do so.

With everything out on the table, I want to know, would you consider joining a social enterprise in 2018?

This guest post was authored by Kathleen Kelly Janus, a social entrepreneur, author, and lecturer at the Stanford Program on Social Entrepreneurship. Her new book, Social Startup Success: How the Best Nonprofits Launch, Scale Up and Make a Difference, is an essential playbook for how to make a difference.

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