We’re going to eradicate homelessness.
There it is. Now its floating out in digital space never to be taken back.
Gaining the nerve to make such an outlandish statement while sitting in an office of only 5 staff members has been one of hardest things I've ever had to do. Most of the time it feels like one of the most foolish as well.
In 2013, we started with a simple but exciting plan to do something that started out for ourselves but had a side effect of helping others. From there it has grown into a consuming passion that has moved our lives in ever changing directions.
After 2 years of planning, a lot of absurdly late nights, many missed weekends with friends and family, quite a few arguments, some fist pounding and more than our fair allotment of giddy child like excitement, our concept has been chiseled, hacked and bludgeoned into something deserving of some polish and refinement.
I’m not new to start-ups and I understand that to refine means to be exposed and to invite mental bruising and abrasion; it means welcoming strangers to critique; its happily putting your baby on a stage to be shouted at and harassed; its forcing growth in a sometimes painful way.
With standard business ideas, getting past the announcement stage has been all of those things but never something frightening.
Today, that process is frightening. To say with any steely certainty that one is going to be a part of a mechanism that will eradicate homelessness is quite certainly brazen, foolhardy, wishful, fanciful, egotistical, idiotic, brash, possibly stupid along with a lot of other equally fretful words that sporadically bolt through the dark and hesitant parts of my mind.
If a standard entrepreneur says “I’m going to revolutionize an industry” or “I’m going to take over Wall Street”, he/she may not be taken very seriously but would likely be considered as motivated or striving. They would just be seen as setting sights on tomorrow’s seemingly impossible outcome in order to embolden him/her today.
Its understood in business that you must set your aim high, that your vision should be near fantastical. Your vision may not be achievable today but you are setting that vision for the lifespan of the company and have a responsibility not to negatively limit future reign holders.
When it comes to social good, however, bold confident claims aren't usually met with the same sort of allowance for aiming big while starting small.
Its, an odd thing that we as a society allow our businessmen and politicians to set far reaching visions prior to having accomplished much but not our community and social figures. — at least not in the same “go give it try and see what happens” sort of attitude. As Dan Pollotta says “We have it dead wrong.”
Get your feet in the mud and plant them there.
It was all too attractive when writing our start-up’s corporate values to tone down what we knew our vision to be.
Now, In the lead up to announcing our business model, it’s grown even more attractive to tone down our overall message.
At times, we've all sat on varying sides of the proverbial fence. “Being bold” on one yellowish-green side and “toning down” on the lush deep green other. Luckily, we've always had at least one partner or another who held on with gritty bastard like confidence and courage every time the debate came up. Deep down we all knew there wouldn't have been any fear if we were just doing standard business. The fear came from being involved with something far more meaningful and worrying about what the reaction of aiming too big would be. — which is fundamentally absurd.
So for all of you social enterprise owners or would be social good entrepreneurs who are going it alone and may not have partners who are helping you to hold confidence, who allow you to keep after your massive, overwhelming bold, terrifying large visions, dreams, hopes and goals…
BOLDEN UP YOU GRITTY BASTARDS!
Plant your feet deep deep deep in the mud and get ready for what’s coming.
Yes. You’re going to be criticized. There’s no doubt you’re going to be told you can’t do it, that you don’t understand the gravity of the issue, that greater people have failed, whole governments couldn't do it so how can you, its impossible, no way, no how, you will not succeed, how dare you SIR / MA’AM, who the HELL do you think you are, you crazy bastard(s), not in this lifetime, it’s bigger than you, NOPE!
If you go through it expectantly, if you can really hear the comments that will help you to improve your product, service or outcome in spite of the surely coming bruising, if you can welcome the abrasions from the correct angles then you’re going to come out a little more polished. You’re going to be all the more ready for the next round. You will stand a little more steadily. You will hold your ground a bit more firmly while getting to be that one step closer to achieving that megalith of a vision you so brazenly set for your organisation.
I needed to write this for me but I hope you got something out of this too.
To my partners…to you gritty bastards…we’re going to eradicate homelessness.
Photos by Richard Mands Photography.
Photos altered by Cinderhouse Creative.
Article written by Joshua Maddox