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5 Ways to Start a Socially Impactful Business

February 26, 2019 at 10:00AM
5 Ways to Start a Socially Impactful Business

An entirely new generation of workers are interested in work that matters, looking for innovative companies they can trust are making a difference. Are you self-motivated and looking for a brand new career pathway that utilizes both your entrepreneurial motivations and your desire to make a difference? Celebrate your best qualities by combining your passion for giving back with a well-designed business plan to start a socially impactful business. Here are some tips to help get you started: 

1. Develop your idea.

What is a socially impactful business and why should you care? Socially impactful businesses  harness innovation in order to structure a business model around giving back.  Studies show  that corporate social responsibility and social impact are critical for recruitment, whether you’re already an entrepreneur with a solid business plan or just starting out. Not only will you have a more compelling reason to stand out from your competitors, but you’ll also attract talent ready to work beyond the paycheck and join the global movement of businesses operating for social good. 

2. Design your business.

Successful businesses begin with individuals who are connected to their cause. Take Open Campus alum, Nidhi Garg, who discovered her purpose before founding international textile company, Marasim, which empowers local artisans to share their craft with leading designers. Your own purpose can be found at the intersect of your passions and interests, transferable skill sets, and the causes you care most about. While exploring possible business ventures, narrow your focus and define your objective with these helpful questions: 

  • What motivates, excites, inspires, or engages you most in life? When are you happiest?

  • What are you really good at doing? What new skill sets have you acquired over the years?

  • What social issues do you care most about? How would you like to be remembered by others?

  • Why is this business venture important to you? Why should others care? In what ways do you feel this business is necessary to the world?

3. Identify your transferable skills.

Stand out from competition by identifying what sets you apart. As an individual, you bring something to the table that is authentic and your own, in the form of your knowledge and technical know-how. If you’re a healthcare professional, explore how human-centered design methodologies can be applied to develop socially impactful enterprises. If you’re an analyst, explore how big data and other methods of discovery can help you to determine unmet consumer needs that you’ll hope to address. If you’re a designer, dive into the creation and testing of prototypes for your venture and work towards developing a proof of concept. If you tend to solve issues by looking through a social justice lens, see how you might be able to integrate issues of power and privilege into the design process.

4. Do your research

After considering what sets you apart from others by diving into the social issues most important to you, search for successful organizations that you admire. Deepen your understanding of the fields or industries in which you hope to work in order to strategize best practices for achieving scalable impact within that system. Look into and learn from the entrepreneurs who have made their businesses successful. What is their mission? What qualities do they possess as effective leaders? Take a page out of their playbooks and see how you can use their knowledge to develop your own mission to give back. 

5. Acquire new skills and strategies.

Developing a business venture that is both sustainable and scalable can require a particular set of skills and knowledge. Our brand new certificate in Business Design for Social Impact is designed to equip you with the necessary tools to start a socially-conscious business of your own. Using the design process and other creative strategies, you’ll learn to create and develop socially innovative businesses or lead socially conscious initiatives within existing companies. With this certificate, you will: 

  • Understand the design process, from ideation to implementation, to support the creation of socially innovative ideas specifically for social impact

  • Develop and iterate prototypes

  • Understand how Lean Launch Pad methods can be applied to customer discovery and sustainable business modeling

  • Identify and pitch a venture to funders/investors


To learn more about our Business Design for Social Impact Certificate or other programs, please visit

Written by Casey O'Connell for Open Campus.

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