13 – Personal Balance


All relations are important including the one with yourself. This is why we believe in the concept of Pleasurable Activism! When you make your “cause” part of your “income”; in other words by aligning your values with your employment, you can relax and enjoy life! This is called Personal Balance.

Even in the beginning we recommend you start slowly. Simply read and research your idea and write your business plan. So if you have a regular job, you can simply have your activist entrepreneur idea as a hobby in the beginning.

This is why preparation can be a relatively relaxed process. You can even give your business a ‘soft’ start by experimenting with your product or service with limited availability while you make minor improvements.

For most small businesses, the first three years from the official start date are usually the busiest and most stressful as you are trying to make your idea ‘work’.

However, once your business starts to make a consistent profit then one of the most pleasurable aspects of being an activist entreprneur is possible!

In order for an activist enterprise to be truly sustainable it cannot depend solely on the founder(s)! It is important to have managers who are able and ready to run the business while the owner is away. Running an activist enterprise should not be a lonely project but a community one. Your projects have more impact when they involve people interested in your social or environmental aims.

Having a professional team helps you to focus more on your projects’ ‘big picture’ visions than managing. It also strengthens your enterprise as it brings various ideas and support. The team you work with also serves as filter and helps you to handle critical situations either you are away or not. Working with persons who share the same values leads to create a kind of social enterprise community. It spreads your ideas because people get to know your activity. The more people you get involved in your projects, the more chance you get to improve the world.

The owner of a social enterprise should always be striving to work themselves out of a job by developing practices and guidelines that can be followed by Managers when they are not there.

Owners should not be Managers.

When a community is too dependent upon the dreams, energy, input, and passion of the Founder it suffers for the following reasons:

  • Not truly sustainable. Once something serious happens to the Owner such as illness the community social enterprise is not able to sustain itself. As well, it reduces the scope and reach of the business to a ‘mom & pop’ business rather than an expanding social enterprise.
  • Owner Dependency. If there are no policies and practices that can be followed in the Owner’s absence, then the community is completely dependent on the Owner. When the Owner is always having to manage there is risk of “burnout”, the burden of running the community simply becomes too much year after year.
  • Owner Emotionalism. An Owner is often very emotional about their “baby”. This can lead to problems in Customer Service as an Owner can behave very differently than a Manager would when answering questions about their community.

This is why it is necessary to have a Manager. Having a Manager(s) is essential for a truly sustainable community. A good Manager is involved but also detached for it is not their “baby”.

Working Vacations

When a community is based on social entrepreneurship, it is beneficial for the owner(s) to travel and see how similar communities or social enterprises function. Travel-based research allows the community to develop and grow by bringing in new ideas, engaging in public relations, and evolving the community vision.

When you are involved in an economic activity that is making a difference, whether it be by social goals or environmental, you can slow down and relax into the pleasures that make living on this planet such a wonderful thing.

We emphasize that CAFE Entrepreneurs work themselves out of a job by developing a manager system with professional codes of conduct and behavior that can easily be followed when the owner is not around.

In the first three years of a business, this will probably not happen, because your business is a baby at that point and needs full-time mothering. However, as soon as possible, take small trips away and each time you return, as well as when you are away, respond to problems by developing policies, practices and principles to avoid them in the future.

With the tools of modern technology it is now possible to be thousands of miles away and yet virtually ‘there’ when needed. This frees the owner to travel and continue to develop and grow the “vision” for their community.

The best thing you can do for your enterprise is to leave it! Yes that means going on working vacations! At first take short trips that are related to your enterprise. For example if your social enterprise business deals with women’s rights you might want to go to a country where they have been very successful at this such as Denmark or visit places where the opposite is true such as Kenya.

Advantages of Working Vacations for Owners:

  • Your trip is a partial tax write off as it is research for your business.
  • You will learn new techniques and ideas.
  • You will learn to communicate positively and from a distance with your managers.
  • Each time you leave things will go wrong but that will help you set up a manual for handling all eventualities in conjunction with your managers
  • You will be traveling and meeting like minded activists. This can only increase the possibilities for growth in your enterprise. You can also have the opportunity to merge with a national or even international activist enterprise which shares similar values.
  • You will then have more ideas for your current and future projects.

AUTONOMY: Being Your Own Boss

  • When your work is driven by your ideals your schedule is completely different. You might find yourself working on the computer at 4 am. But then on Monday morning you sleep in! Being a social entrepreneur is perfect for single mothers!
  • As ‘the boss’ you work hard and then you don’t work. You have much more control over when and how!

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