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What does it take to be a Social Entrepreneur and make an impact?

Updated: Dec 19, 2019

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:

  • Social consciousness

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

  • Stakeholder management

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.

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