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A 5-Step Guide to Starting a Socially Impactful Business
Socially Impactful Business

Sponsored by The New School. The New School has developed and launched a unique online curriculum, which blends entrepreneurship with design for social impact and sustainability. Learn More.


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. Jump-start your motivation


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.

Nidhi Garg, alum, is a Parsons Open Campus graduate. She is the creator of marasim.com.

2. Determine your cause


Successful businesses begin with individuals who are connected to their cause. Take Nidhi Garg, an alumna of Open Campus, The New School’s destination for continuing and professional solutions to support your career aspirations.

A entrepreneur with a passion for grassroots fashion design, Nidhi founded the international textile company Marasim, which empowers Indian artisans to share their craft with leading designers. Your own purpose can be found at the intersection 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?
Parsons Paris Metadata Clean Up

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. The Business Design for Social Impact online certificate through Open Campus at The New School 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

After you’ve followed these five steps, you are ready to start designing your socially impactful business. If you already have an idea in mind, or are ready to launch your venture, learn more about the Business Design for Social Impact Certificate and let Open Campus guide you along the way.

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