Entrepreneurship is not French for Mark Zuckerburg. It isn’t even French for Elon Musk. The word entrepreneurship is a French-derived word meaning roughly identifying problems and finding venturable solutions. In other words, when we work to solve the world’s issues, we often gain more financial, environmental, or social resources leading to a sustainable future. There’s more than a cash profit. There is a long term social return on investment.
Here is a list of five ways you can solve the world’s problems like an entrepreneur:
- Take a step back to identify global issues facing humankind. You don’t have to look far. Google “World’s problems 2019” and you will find 751 million entries. The United Nations Foundation provides a list of Six Global Issues to Watch in 2019.
- Co-create solutions. Find others who want to solve those problems. Again, a Google search can help you identify people operating in your sphere. Many times thinktanks like the Brookings Institute identify experts who may already be working on a solution and can help you identify others. Remember, the more minds you get around a problem, the more likely you are to solve it.
- Be part of competitions, conferences, and hackathons as a means to crowdsource solutions. Companies and organizations such as Bloomberg Philanthropies ask innovators to think differently about issues such as climate change, immigration, poverty, making rural communities competitive, and building the smart cities of tomorrow. And they offer cash prizes. Themed Startup Weekends – that focus on education, health care, artificial intelligence, and smart city solutions. These events typically provide services as prizes for the top winners, but they can be worth more than cash.
- Use facilities including makerspaces, coworking spaces, and business incubators that encourage problem-solving through equipment usage and shared support systems. For example, the IDEA Lab at Zane State took an $85,000 problem, identified a 10 cent solution, and saved the local health care system big time. The health system had 50 crash carts which cost $1,700 each. And, definitely recognize that the $85,000 problem for this health system means more investment in new health care technologies.
- Follow a logic model process or a venture model canvas that asks you to validate the problem, identify beneficiaries, find solutions, and discover deliverables. Many local organizations like ACEnet, the Innovation Center, the Social Enterprise Ecosystem and of course the LIGHTS Regional Innovation Network can walk you through these tools.
In short, making money and making a difference can happen when we think creatively about problems facing the world. When we find others who want to solve that problem, too. When we use resources often offered in innovation competitions to bolster our solutions. When we use makerspaces and incubators to get the support we need. And, when, we walk through proven tools to find solutions.
The LIGHTS Innovation Network catalyzes the creation of companies to create high-wage jobs and attract greater private investment in the coal-impacted and opioid-impacted regions of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, uniquely matching the complex problems and opportunities facing our corporations, communities, and individuals to a network of strategically-placed Innovation Gateways. From this, new marketable products grow from these challenges through our work with locally partnered Innovation Gateways’ business incubators and makerspaces, across a tri-state 28-county area.