Tell me if I’m wrong.
I’m betting that somewhere along the beginnings of your journey as a social entrepreneur, whether that was a year ago, a week ago, or hell –– even today, that you’ve gotten overwhelmed by the process, shut your laptop, and felt pretty frustrated by everything you needed to do.
Trust me, I’ve been there. I am there. I will be there? (yep.)
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to stay that way.
And as it turns out, you don’t need to spend lots of cash money or buy any fancy technology to get out of the typical “oh-god-what-have-I-gotten-myself-into-please-help-me-ahhh” rut.
The internet, beautiful majestic unicorn princess that it is, is ripe with free amazing stuff that you can start using today in your business or project.
Let’s dive in.
Dude. Every time I get on Coursera I have to pinch myself to remember that it’s free. In case you don’t know about Coursera (or its similar rival, EdX), it’s basically a free, virtual university where you can learn anything from computer science to foreign language and business with universities as prestigious as Duke and Cornell. (Did I mention that this is free?)
Just like other online courses, there are enrollment dates, syllabi, course materials, professors, and procrastination. (Ok, that last one is up to you, but most of my schooling has included a fair amount of putting things off.)
At the end of the course you even get a lil’ course certificate you can put up on your LinkedIn profile, resume, or refrigerator.
I’m planning on taking this one about Social Impact Strategy that starts later this month. What about you?
PLAN: REDF Workshop Tools Suite
As a natural born planner, listmaker, and process enthusiast, I really appreciate step-by-step instruction. It just works for me.
Discovering the Tools Suite on REDFworkshop.org caused all sorts of happy sirens and bells to go off in my brain. If you’re a socent who’s just getting started with an idea, and especially if you’re working on an enterprise with an inclusivity model, you should check out their tools suite.
By simply registering for a profile, you gain access to their tools suite as well as other helpful items, such as learning modules, case studies, and their Made series.
No matter what kind of business you have, the 21st century fact of the matter is, you need a website.
It might be your main source of revenue, your project showcase, or your blog. But these days, growing and scaling your business pretty much requires a solid website.
Sure, you could go with WordPress. It’s been around for a long time and is responsible for a huge portion of the internet, so there are a lot of examples to follow, guides to grab, and benefits to going with the behemoth that is the WP.
But, in my experience with WordPress, all I found was myself getting frustrated fast. After a little while of tinkering, I decided to leave it behind and go with one of the newer folks in town: Weebly.
The positives? Weebly is fast, fun, and actually makes designing and producing a site an enjoyable task, which is something I cannot say that WordPress did for me. Everything is drag and drop, and its integrations and apps available are growing by the day.
Although I haven’t used it personally, I’ve also heard similar things about Squarespace. Try them out and see which one you like.
As a former magazine journalism student, I had the pleasure (and pain?) of learning how to use design software like PhotoShop and InDesign inside and out.
But most people don’t have the time, energy, or interest to do that. They (and you, I bet) just want to create cool stuff to share with the world that also looks good.
Canva makes it really easy to just that. With their free platform, you can create social media posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms (already formatted in the right size!), as well as presentation decks, posters, infographics.
You can even embed that sh!t on your website.
The virtual sky’s the limit –– true story.
Like any free online tool, you’ve got upgrade options within in case you wanna live that first class kinda lifestyle, but you’ve still got plenty of options even if you wanna slum it in the free section.
Hanging out on social media for too long kind of overwhelms me. At the same time, I know that as an entrepreneur, social media is a must.
Hootsuite’s a big help for someone like me, as it lets me schedule out content across several platforms at once, so I don’t have to be hovering around Facebook or Twitter at the precise time I wanna post something.
Now you only have to be social (media), when you wanna be.
INTERACT: Facebook Groups
When I do get myself on the social medias, I really want my time to be useful. I want to connect with other cool people, share ideas, and be uplifted.
Only problem is, have you been on social media lately? It’s really hard to do that.
But it seems like Facebook groups are having their day in the sun, and I’m soaking it up.
As opposed to pages, which can be more of a monodirectional dearth of information spewed from an organization to its followers, groups are an easy way to get people with a unified interest to share, collaborate, and discuss. The filter of having to be accepted to the group (in some cases), and a moderator monitoring the discussion, can help users maintain focus while also being productive.
I recently discovered the Global Social Entrepreneurs Lab, run by Soléne of Creators for Good and Danielle of theSedge.org, who have created a great space for socents with a global mindset to come together to bat ideas back and forth and support one another.
But that’s just one example. Head to Facebook with a purpose, and see what you find.
REFLECT: B Impact Assessment
As your business grows and prospers, you may start looking towards formalized ways to demonstrate and measure the positive impact that your enterprise has in the world.
One option for doing just that is becoming certified as a B Corporation, a label assigned by a nonprofit entity called B Lab. The certification has become a unified way to mark a company’s commitment to their social and environmental impact, as the process to become a B Corps is comprehensive and rigorous.
To help such companies determine their strengths and areas for growth, B Lab created the free B Impact Assessment, in which business owners can answer a series of questions about their companies, and receive a detailed report afterward.
Completing such an assessment can help you form a clearer picture of the impact you are making, and how you can improve it moving forward.
So, I can’t promise that once you start using these tools, you won’t have many more “bang head on keyboard” moments.
In fact, you probably will. So just make peace with that.
But I can say that they can help you get started down your own entrepreneurial journey a little bit smoother path than perhaps you otherwise would have.
You might also like: The Digital Nomad Starter Kit: 5 Handy Tools to Work While Traveling the World
Let's change the world.
Who wrote this?
Gina Edwards, Impact Explorer founder and lover of all pun jokes, making a positive change in the world, Stephen Colbert, Jif Peanut Butter, and staying inside on rainy days. Order may vary.