It is commendable to desire to save the world and we should celebrate it. However, even the world saviours need to take a breather now and then; that is what keeps you going.
– By Simi Olusola
I was at an event in April, 2018 and when the attendees were asked why they want to be rich, the first thing almost everyone said was that so they could help the poor and disadvantaged people. A good number of us have this mind-set and while it is a good way to think, it could also be dangerous if you do not help yourself as well.
In the bid to create that solution that will change everyone’s life radically, we sometimes forget that we also need help. We neglect ourselves and end up becoming burnt out. How do you ensure that you and your social enterprise are both thriving? Here are a few ways you can save the world without ending up as one of those to be saved especially in your first years of starting.
- Know When To Rest
Because we are young and full of energy, we tend to treat our bodies with less care than it deserves. We are always multitasking, always working and always on the move. When you do not have a task you’re on, you feel like you are wasting time or you feel guilty.
You need to step away from it all occasionally, take a break and rest. You need to set aside time, perhaps one weekend every quarter where you just become deaf, dumb and blind to the work. Sleep, eat, and hang out with friends. Just do something else out of your daily routine that will help you relax.
Now do not work yourself to death every quarter with the plan to take just that weekend off. Nah, it does not work like that. You need to rest well consistently. Pace yourself well, do not lump together all your tasks. Pace yourself.
- Have A Side Hustle
This is super important. In the first few years of starting your social enterprise, you are likely to be short on personal cash most of the time. This is even truer for those whose social enterprises are not-for-profit. Getting the money to fuel your vision is hard to come by, so do not just expect people to drop cash into your laps because you are saving the world.
Therefore, to keep body and soul together and to keep you from dipping your hands into the organisation’s funds, have something else that brings you an income. What this means is that you will have to run two jobs. Remember what I said in Point 1 above; do not burn the candle at both ends because of your two jobs. If you have to increase the time-frame for hitting your milestones so that you have a better work pace, please do so.
Some of the side hustles you can have include:
- Writing: You can write content for online and offline publications and get paid. You have many things you can do in this space. You can write people’s books, thesis, blogposts, product reviews and a whole lot more.
- Freelancing: You can sign up with Fiverr, Upwork and the likes as a freelancer and offer your services for a fee. The advantages of this includes being able to pick what you want to work on and the flexible timing.
- Consulting: You have probably put in a lot of effort into your social enterprise and you have gained some knowledge and experience as a result. You probably even have the academic knowledge to back it up. Why not offer to share what you know with others in form of consulting packages? What have you learnt so far that you think the market needs? Share it with others. As a consultant you can help troubleshoot and fix, train, monitor & evaluate, develop models and designs and help others improve their ventures.
- Remote part time employment: You do not want anything where you have to be the one providing direction since you already do this with your enterprise. I can relate to that feeling very well. Sometimes you just do not want to be the person that the buck stops with or the one responsible for high level decision making. You can find a junior or associate remote role in a company anywhere in the world.
- Know How And When To Delegate
Do not be caught in the ‘if I do not do it myself, it will not be done well’ trap. Except you are a one-man team, spread your tasks across your team evenly. The earlier you start this, the better, so your team will not think you suddenly decided to offload all your work on them. If you have not been delegating before, I will advise that you phase your delegation. Do not just dump twelve tasks on a person that is used to having three tasks per week. Scale it up gradually.
Anything that does not HAVE to be done by you, feel free to give it to someone else while you focus on other things. Do not let the fear of them not doing it well stop you. If they do not do it well, help them go over it and do it better on the next try. It might take longer but do not obsess over that fact. Trust your team.
A true social entrepreneur is more concerned about the impact he/she is making than about who will get the glory. Many people, in a bid to keep spotlight on themselves, have lost the many advantages that collaboration brings. Do not ‘tighten the world to your chest’. Come together with organisation(s) that have complementary goals, put your skills and resources together and make larger impact.
This way, you will be achieving more by doing less. A note of caution; whatever form of collaboration you enter into must be guided and guarded by the right documentation. All the parties involved should spell out, agree to the terms and conditions, and append their signatures to it. Everyone must be covered in the case of any eventualities.
We have enough cases of social entrepreneurs losing themselves in the course of the work. You are important too. So remember to always celebrate yourself and your little victories. Even if it is one person you were able to impact, celebrate it. It is worth celebrating. Do not make light of the great work you are doing. Keep at it!
This piece is dedicated to the late Samson Abioye of Pass.ng.
Simi Olusola is the founding Executive Director of Aspilos Foundation. She has been working in the not for profit sector for over 8 years with a focus on education, secure livelihoods and governance as it concerns young people. She has over 4 years of experience working as a consultant. She is a lifelong volunteer with a passion for societal development. She is also the founder of and resident consultant at Nuach Consulting, a consulting company that provides end-to-end organisational setup, development and restructure for small business and non-profits, project management services and personal productivity improvement strategies.