By Sarah L. Knapp, OutdoorFest
I didn't mean to become a social entrepreneur. It happened so fast and before I knew it my tweets had a funny new hashtag and my happy hours became filled with people who complained not of their day at work but of world problems.
I had grappled with the decision to leave my job for months, but when the day finally came for me to quit and start my own venture, everything shifted dramatically. A new world of flexible titles, hours and business plans opened before me. The day after I quit I could either be unemployed or an entrepreneur. Or with zero revenue perhaps the distinction was between an avid hobbyist and a businesswoman.
Anyway, as a committed hobbyist I jumped right in to creating the yet unnamed OutdoorFest. I was building the festival of my dreams to strengthen the outdoor community in NYC. Yet I began to discover this wasn’t just about organizing outdoor enthusiasts but rather building a platform that could shift urban lifestyles and, ultimately, change city culture.
Now I wasn’t just a budding hobbyist/possible entrepreneur/unemployed dreamer but rather a change maker.
There’s a piece of advice, framed as a question that seems to have permeated the social entrepreneurial discourse: Why are you doing this? It’s commonly asserted that if you don’t know why you’re doing it then there’s no possible way you’ll succeed. It’s the why that fuels us through the tough times and disappointments inherent in starting a new business. Yet, although I can tell you how my values and passions align with the goals of OutdoorFest, I can’t really enunciate a true, defined reason for starting OutdoorFest.
When people ask me why are you doing this? The only real answer that comes to mind is “Because I have to.”
So still unsure about how exactly I ended up here I can say I am definitely building a business and I am definitely trying to help people and change their lives in big ways. I guess this is the official “social entrepreneur debut” blog post because all the signs point to #SocENT.
Whoopsies, I’m a social entrepreneur.
PresenTense NYC Fellowship
Igniting social change in the NYC Jewish community.