STAGE 3: Test, Learn, and Iterate

Next Steps

This is an exciting time for you as a social entrepreneur. You’ve done the hard work of developing a strategy for social impact, and you’ve begun to test it.

Achieving social change is hard. Social entrepreneurs—like business entrepreneurs—must build on successes, learn from failures, iterate, and go on to try again. This process often takes years to get right.

We hope that what you’ve learned in this module will help you achieve the impact you want to have in the world.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you move forward on your social change journey. You can revisit this module anytime you need to develop or refine part of your theory of change.

Continue to Test and Iterate

Share Your Results

In addition to being candid with yourself, your beneficiaries, and funders, contribute what you learn to the field so that others can use your learning to develop their own strategies.

Continue to Develop Your Social Enterprise

Your theory of change is the heart of your strategy for social impact. But there are many other things to do when launching and operating a social enterprise—especially in the areas of business planning and implementation.

As you move forward, we encourage you to explore these additional free resources developed by Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business for social entrepreneurs.

  1. » Social Venture Innovation Process
    In this resource you’ll take a deeper dive into designing interventions. It suggests techniques for uncovering unmet needs and encourages you to explore revenue models. You’ll see samples of prototyping and testing, and get additional guidance for developing effective solutions that pave the way to success.
  2. » The Impact Business Model Canvas
    This framework will help you visualize, evaluate, and refine your business model to achieve both social and financial value. Here you’ll focus more on business planning as you define your value proposition, identify inputs and other key required resources, cost structure, and more.
  3. » Social Enterprise Legal Structure
    You want to build an organization that supports your social mission and also maximizes your impact over the long term. The legal structure of your venture and the legal design tools you use will govern key stakeholder relationships and can shape your financing options, market interaction, growth options, liabilities, and governance. Here you’ll explore nonprofit, for-profit, and hybrid structures to discover which legal structure best suits your needs. (For U.S. ventures only.)