By the time Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta made it onto the hit show Shark Tank, they’d been hustling their product, LuminAid, for half a decade. The design students turned entrepreneurs invented the solar-powered, waterproof lantern with a mission: to help people through power outages after major disasters, like the Haiti earthquake. After being featured on the program — and scoring an investment from billionaire investor and businessman Mark Cuban — their revenue tripled.
Great outcomes like this help fuel the do-good business trend. In the US, it’s estimated that over 10 million people are employed by social enterprises. Revenues from these mission-driven ventures total $500 billion — a notable 3.5 percent of the national GDP.
Sadly, however, LuminAid’s success story is not the standard in social enterprise. In the cutthroat world of capitalism, 50 percent of all new businesses still fail within their first 5 years. To avoid becoming just another statistic, fledgling social entrepreneurs must remember, first and foremost, that an inspiring mission isn’t the key to success.