Published in Forbes
If you want it done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. That’s why entrepreneurs struggle with delegating important responsibilities — too much is at stake, especially when starting something new. There is no room for error. Nonetheless, a resilient, mature organization incorporates many talents in meeting goals everyone cares about.
In this area, socially responsible organizations and businesses have a distinct advantage. Taking on a big problem like extreme poverty not only inspires, but calls for a global perspective. For entrepreneurs struggling with scale, reframing your operations is a useful exercise. Real solutions will help your organization grow through changes, even prosper in your absence. Here are four important lessons.
Prepare for when you’re gone
Consider Kate Spade & Company’s on purpose initiative in Masoro, Rwanda. More than a decade later, Rwanda is still recovering from the social and economic damage wrought by the 1994 genocide. Responding to calls for investment, Kate Spade & Company began considering how the brand could structure a program to stimulate the local economy, yet the initiative was not to be a charity. It became evident that jobs and training were needed to work toward true independence. Viability meant imagining what was needed to create a Rwandan manufacturing partner and helping identify the path to standing on their own in the future.
Valuable training requires real jobs. Profitable businesses grow. Kate Spade’s return on investment would drive demand for new services, support higher skilled workers and, in turn, propel the business community to greater independence. If a business plan that aspires to a diminishing proportion of the economy seems odd, keep in mind that it is better to have a small piece of a big pie than a big piece of a small one. Or, even more accurately, not trying to do and own everything is how you achieve the biggest goals — goals with the greatest benefit for everyone in the end.