When creating your social business, whether by yourself or with a team, you will for sure feel the need to get help. You cannot know everything, and although you can try to find the right way by yourself, it can never be as effective as getting help from a professional.
Although it’s great to hear from friends and other fellow entrepreneurs, their advises might get confusing and sometimes even contradictory. People will give you their thoughts about your problem with their own perspective, while projecting themselves (their own fears, their own idea of success) onto you.
You might have found locally an association or a public institution providing “un-buyest” help for free. Free help is attractive, although it turns out to most-often be either not tailor-made for your project (which can be quite frustrating, spending more time explaining what your social business is actually about instead of actually working on it), and/or very limited in time/resources allocated. The truth is, what has value has a cost. Free help might be good, but rarely is good enough to make an actual difference.
I strongly believe that if you want to get the best for your social business and maximize your chances of success, you need to make smart investment decisions and not try to do everything by yourself/at the smallest (short term) cost.
Imagine you would try to put your website up all by yourself. It will take weeks (months?) for you to understand all there is to know about domain name registration, cloud backup, responsive design, Search Engine Optimization, visual branding and so on… Plus the result can never be as professional as if you would hire an actual webdesigner. Even if you manage to find some “free” help, the quality cannot be the same as when you actually invest in what is best for your social business.
You know what difference it makes for your website… so imagine the difference it can make for your business / entrepreneurial journey as a whole!
> Here are 3 types of professional help you can choose to hire in order to make your business successful:
A mentor is generally someone with years of experience and good knowledge about a specific industry or field. A mentor can give you advises along your entrepreneurial journey, and follow you and your social business for months, maybe years.
Usually, mentors have a career of their own. They mentor on the side/on their free time, and have not designed a specific methodology for you to follow. Mentors can give fantastic advises, although you will be expected to come up with the structure and the discipline to implement along the way.
> I advise to get a mentor especially if his/her name can make a difference in the reputation of your social business, open some door in his/her network, or even convince investors to believe in your project, knowing that you are mentored by a reference in your industry.
A coach dedicates his professional life to helping others reach higher goals that they would on their own. Just like a sport coach trains and supports its team, a business coach provides tools and psychological support to employees/managers/entrepreneurs willing to improve their results and the ones of their organization.
> I recommend to hire a coach especially if what slows you down in your business is lack of self-confidence, rollacoaster motivation, constant doubts (about yourself and/or your business) and difficulty to make clear choices & move on. A coach will never give you the answer, it will help you find your own way to reach your goals.
Like a coach, a consultant dedicates his professional life to helping others reach their professional goals. Consultants generally specialize in one industry / one field and have develop a specific methodology to guide their clients step by step. Ideally, a consultant has already gone through the steps he will ask you to follow (i.e. a consultant for entrepreneurs would be a (more advanced) entrepreneur himself).
You should hire a consultant if you want to consolidate your business foundations (business model, business plan, revenue model, communication strategy …) and accelerate its results. A business consultant will guide you to choose the right path, and will provide advises at every step along the way so you do not get stuck, or waist your energy going in the wrong direction.
> I recommend to hire a consultant if you have a limited time to make your business work (= reach breakeven, reach X impact goal, … ).
Since I am myself a social business consultant, you might thing while reading this article that I am lobbying for my own interest.. The reality is that I am not trying to convince you to hire ME in particular: I am hoping for you to find the right solution for your own needs, and not hesitate to hire the right person that will make a difference for your social entrepreneurship journey. There are plenty or mentors, coaches and consultants out there willing to help you! So look around, and go for it!
Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or insights on this topic! I’d love to hear your feedback and perspective ;)
Solène is the Chief Empowerment Officer of Creators for Good.
She developed a methodology that allows Global Citizen to start and grow their own impactful businesses from anywhere in the world – and with no need for investors or government support.