Social Movements Can Teach Us A Lot About What It Takes To Build A Business

1. Make Your Purpose Clear

While Occupy’s message of “the 99% vs. the 1%” inspired many, it was also confusing. What, exactly, did the 99% want from the 1%? How did they define success? That was never made clear and interviews with leading activists did little to straighten things out. There were, of course, a long litany of grievances, but few credible calls for actual change.

2. Have A Plan

Clear objectives are critical for any movement, but it’s just as important to develop a plan for achieving them. Occupy’s plan seemed to be to encourage enough people to live out on the streets long enough for the banks to take notice and change their ways. Unfortunately, homelessness is not an attractive option for most people, so it’s no surprise that the movement withered.

3. Work Up To Mainstream Appeal

Every social movement begins with a team of dedicated activists. These are true believers who are willing to struggle and endure in order to achieve their goals. It is their passion and dedication that drive the movement forward, even when it faces seemingly insurmountable odds.

4. Survive Victory

In a sense, both movements and startups are both entrepreneurial enterprises. They work long and hard, overcoming enormous obstacles in order to achieve a single goal, whether that be the downfall of a tyrannical regime or the launch of a hit product. In both cases, success can be intoxicating.



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Greg Satell

Greg Satell

Bestselling Author of Cascades and Mapping Innovation, @HBR Contributor, - Learn more at — note: I use Amazon Affiliate links for books.