What does it take to be a Social Entrepreneur and make an impact?
A sneak into a life of a social entrepreneur.
As one takes a leap into being a social entrepreneur, the kind of mind shift and attitude that needs to be nurtured and developed is significant than any other business man.
Of course, the basics of entrepreneurship is key and necessary for a social entrepreneur too, like:
being clear in the direction with long term view
having clarity on why one does what he/she does or intends
having focused approach
have highest alignment between vision and values of self and the organization
creating niche and innovative method of delivery
building and creating product/ services of highest order of quality
think global, act local and dynamically adapt with flexible structures
add value to self and others including society
having very high standards and constantly increasing them
functional and domain competence
ability to raise funds and cash flow
understand finance, legal and compliance requirements
ability to sell & market his/her services/product / concept
adapt latest and optimum tools and technology
create the need in the market / address the need of the market innovatively
must be able to have analytical / quantitative & qualitative decision making approach
learn in every step and mistakes and gain better understanding and gain insights to be wiser
ability to solve problems quickly and in simplest ways
and continue to create wow experience for customers and stake holders.
May be there is more to this list, but as an entrepreneur if one can take care of all these dimensions, there is high probability of seeing and experiencing joyful and successful entrepreneurship journey.
As a social entrepreneur, along with these listed points there are few more areas that need attention and focus.
Working in the areas where there are society, people, government, public, and private parties are involved, extra caution and care is necessary beyond just running a business.
The ability to understand the intricacies’ and inter-connectedness of all these stakeholders is key.
Few areas that I feel necessary are:
able to have a holistic approach and processes connecting all stakeholders
run the social enterprise like a business with the vision and value system catering to a social cause and impact
be an anthropologist - get to the ground level, understand the ground realities, and then cater the specific need of the society with unique and in most optimal way
Values and ethics
hold very high conviction to not get sucked into the bureaucracy and mediocracy that may be prevalent in the system
ability to hold firm ground for a positive social impact and not get carried away with corruption and other possible social barriers
ability to run every project / task / initiative with utmost care and be context sensitive to all stakeholders and needs.
ability to involve public and other stakeholders into the process and make the journey & impact more meaningful and inclusive
have quantitative and qualitative dashboards / reporting systems for audits and compliance, especially for public and government.
as there are eyes and ears of public and society involved, there needs to be very high standards for communication strategies with least gossip and leakages
Innovation and Optimization
ability to give best /more with least (cost, time, and resources) without compromise on quality and sustainability
ability to focus on the key problem and not expand the scope beyond one’s capability and intent. The sky is too large to paint, opportunity is vast but be clear where is your play ground
ability to procure / source most optimal resources, materials, methods and deliver best is key, as many a times there is public money, CSR, donation, or funding that is used for execution
Risk and Adversity management
some projects / tasks / initiatives can have a direct impact to the day to day living of many people in society and government, ability to deal with any adversities, challenges and be proactively addressing the issues needs very high order involvement and understanding
clear and transparent process and systems for least confusion and questioning
easily auditable transactions with best use of tools, technology, & mobile apps
being a social enterprise calls for a lot of statutory and regulatory compliance, understanding and dealing with this needs is key. Many can get caught unaware and can also lead to potential closure of the entity despite good intentions.
This list can have many more valuable inputs from other experienced social entrepreneurs and philanthropists. I have shared with my limited experience and insights.
I urge to seek your valuable insights and focus areas for an entrepreneur especially social entrepreneur. Your inputs will help elevate and evolve many budding entrepreneurs like me to make bigger and long lasting impact.