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Lofty Ideals Smart and socially conscious students build businesses with high standards.

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Do you want to be socially responsible? Think about starting abusiness. Whether it's for-profit or nonprofit, you can harnessall your youthful idealism and focus your socially responsibleefforts with a business venture. "Social entrepreneurship isreally about finding innovative approaches and solutions to some ofsociety's most pressing needs, problems andopportunities," says Beth Battle Anderson, managing directorat Duke University's Center for the Advancement of SocialEntrepreneurship. If you're a graduate or an undergraduate,this could be just the right time for you to find your altruisticentrepreneurial calling.

College was the right time for Matthew Gutschick and BenWhiting, both 22, founders of the nonprofit MagicMouth Productionsin Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Coming up with the idea in late2004 and fine-tuning it throughout 2005, the pair wanted to createa forum for performing and teaching theater and magic to youngpeople. They had their first show this year. Gutschick and Whiting,both 2006 graduates of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem,studied theater (Gutschick also studied communications). Some oftheir theater professors helped the pair make contact with theoffice of entrepreneurship at WFU. "We decided to go nonprofitbecause it gave us a larger measure of credibility andauthenticity," says Gutschick.

Determining whether to go for-profit or nonprofit is a key stepfor socially responsible entrepreneurs in college, notes BattleAnderson. And while financing a business venture is always achallenge, she says it can be even more difficult for socialventures. "There is a really refined capital market forraising money, be it [for] a nonprofit or for-profit," saysBattle Anderson. "But probably one of the biggest challengesis actually determining impact and how you're going to measurethe value you're creating. In traditional businesses, there arevery clear bottom lines. With a social venture, the bottom line isgoing to be different because your primary goal is social impact,and measuring that is a much more complex undertaking." Setgoals and clear metrics for success in the beginning phases of yourbusiness--and seek out mentors who can help.

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