The entrepreneurial social worker: Can social workers be their own boss?
On completing their master’s degree and after gaining significant experience in the field, social workers often consider becoming their own boss. Is it a viable venture though? Even if it is, what should the entrepreneurial social worker be aware of before starting their own business?
Get the Experience and the Education You Need First
Starting a business in social work primarily requires two things, which are education and experience.
Education – Although you do not need a bachelor’s degree in social work to complete your online social work masters from Florida State University, it will help you complete the Advanced Standing Program they have for students with bachelor’s in SW.
A 3.0 GPA, a baccalaureate degree from an accredited establishment, adequate placement experience and taking the GRE is pretty much the gist of the requirements for joining the program. It is estimated that on an average, even full-time working professionals can complete their SW master’s degree in roughly three years.
Experience – In social work, experience is part of the education itself, but even if you did not have specific experience regarding social work, any expertise in a relevant field will count. By the time you have completed your master’s degree though, you should know everything you will need to learn about starting a social work venture of your own.
Seek Help If You Need to
Unlike in most of the other fields of business, your primary goal is to help people and then make money while at it. This is the reason why you should never hesitate to seek help from other organizations or professional contacts when you need to. It will also be a learning experience for you, which will further add to the maturity of your entrepreneurial spirit down the line.
Serve a Sector that Needs It the Most
For the sake of both your business goals and those you serve, choose to launch a venture in a sector of social work that really needs the help.
By definition, social workers serve to solve a problem or multiple problems that are plaguing a good number of individuals in a given society.
When you start a business, it is important to remember that the primary goal of every business ever is solving a problem. The social work business is no different, so choose to venture in sectors that need the most attention. For example, substance abuse, mental healthcare, foster care, and child therapy are lucrative fields with ample opportunity in the US.
Understand the Difference between Working in SW and Running a SW Business
The difference is huge and although your experience in social work will help you, it cannot possibly prepare you for the business aspect of the field.
Accept the difference between being employed as a social worker and running a social work business first. Once you have come to terms with it, try some of the strategies below.
- Hire a business coach
- Complete a business education course online
- Hire managerial staff with significant experience
- Take it slow and start small, so that the learning mistakes are small as well
At the end of the day, business is business and the more knowledgeable and experienced you are about social work in particular and business in general, the faster and better your venture will grow.