Successfully found a social start-up – with these 3 tips you avoid the biggest mistakes

Pauline from Enactus Germany e.V.

You want to found your own social start-up? When founding a social start-up, there are a lot of challenges and unanswered questions that accompany you. Our founders from the last article know this all too well. Here they share their tips and learnings so that you can avoid the typical mistakes.

1. This is how Pauline from Enactus Germany e.V. deals with criticism

Pauline (25 years old, from Mannheim) from Enactus knows the questions founders ask themselves: “Is my product good? Are there enough customers for it? Have I understood the problems of the people whose lives I want to improve well enough?”. In the course of her own founding, she has learned a lot from this.

Pauline’s tip: “Don’t let it get you down!”

“There will always be critics who don’t believe in you and your idea, you will have some low points on your way as a founder and you won’t know the answers to many of your questions at first, but that’s the beauty of founding: Challenges and failure are part of the development process and part of getting better. What’s special about social entrepreneurship is that there is a huge community that is always happy to support you with questions and challenges and offer advice and support – not against each other, but with each other, because #WeAllWin.

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2. Katrin from SEND is networking

“Founding in itself is challenging and always requires a portion of courage for the leap into the unknown”, Katrin (38 years, from Berlin) from SEND reveals to us. “In the field of social entrepreneurship, the situation is aggravated by the fact that there are still very few established support structures in the area of start-up support. Most start-up advisors are initially sceptical because ‘you can’t earn money with a social idea’. But there are many successful business models of social enterprises and it is not primarily about making money, but about the social impact you want to achieve.

Katrin’s tip: “Network!”

“The most important thing is to talk to others about your project as early as possible. Get feedback from experts, from the target group and from people outside your own bubble. There are now networks, co-working spaces and incubation programmes in many regions of Germany for which social entrepreneurship is not a foreign word. You should look for these contacts, because together it is easier to tackle resistance and find suitable solutions.

Photo: Katrin from SEND

3. Sven from Helden e.V. is in favour of clear conditions

Sven founded Helden e.V. together with three friends. They decided on flat hierarchies at the time. “No one had their real tasks, everyone did everything and in retrospect that was a mistake. If I were to found an organisation again today, I would deal with the topics of processes and responsibilities from the very beginning. If responsibilities are clear, work is not done twice. In the beginning, we did a lot of Learning by Doing. It was not until late that we were recognised as an independent provider of child and youth welfare. If I were to set up a project again today, I would first look at which recognitions are important in the area and tackle them right from the start.

Sven’s tip: “Stay busy!”

“Most important are: Process optimisation, clarifying responsibilities, gaining recognition! Even if you have a good idea, a network, the necessary recognition and processes are optimised, the most important thing in everything is that you are really diligent at the beginning of the start-up. There’s this saying ‘hard work beats talent’ and I strongly believe in that.”

How much do you like the idea of founding a social enterprise with added social value? Tell us in the comments.

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