What does it take to become a social entrepreneur?
LevelUp Entrepreneurial Lessons – Sponsored By NameCheap.com
Entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial ideas are becoming more and more popular in the media. This spotlight makes entrepreneurship a more tangible path for many people.
But entrepreneurship is not a new concept. In fact, it’s in our DNA. We are by nature social and curious. We see problems and create solutions. But there is a distinction between the entrepreneurship of the past and what is happening now. In the past, we developed utilitarian products and services that covered our basic needs. Today, we see a new type of entrepreneurship. It produces things that are not tangible.
The internet, e-commerce and product fulfillment have had huge impacts. You can run a full-scale business from your bedroom and sell or trade almost anything of value. Ebay and Amazon are prime examples of how the power of mercantilism has succeeded. Yet as more of us seek a slice of the pie, we often do it without considering the impact on our ecosystem.
Our world believes more in extraction than in regeneration. But even as economic prosperity grows, we see the Earth struggling to survive. We see communities displaced because of trade agreements and political warfare. We see that not everyone has been able to keep up with this hyper-growth.
Those who have reached success come to a crossroads. They must ask themselves this question: “Am I just a cog in an old system, or am I going to help make this system more accessible, more fair and better for the environment?”
Most reasonable entrepreneurs would say they care about clean air and drinking water for all. But when we dig a little deeper, ideals of sustainability often come in conflict with the bottom line. We sometimes don’t realize the impact of our decisions because we have been trained to be short-sighted. As social entrepreneurs, we take the path less traveled, the path with unstable stones, thorns and traps. We do this to help pave a path for others who believe that not only can we do better, but that we must do better now.
Social entrepreneurs want their businesses to make money and benefit employees, the community and the environment. They set policies and systems that address this vision and build staunch staffs that carry them out.
That’s a tall order. But entrepreneurs are the main group outside of government that can shift the direction of our world. Their ideas shape our lives and our destiny.
If we foster wise, considerate and action-driven entrepreneurs today, the enterprises of tomorrow will no longer face the the illogical argument that profit is greater than people and the planet. They will understand that all is connected and that our current system of capitalism and free markets is still evolving to one that benefits all.
Here are the top 10 skills social entrepreneurs need.
- The ability to see the integrations of systems and how a solution that benefits one problem may affect another.
- The ability to be a community leader and build stakeholder communities.
- The ability to negotiate and sell tough ideas. Never compromise your integrity or your values, but know how to compromise in a tough situation.
- The ability to connect marginalized communities to those more affluent and get them to collaborate toward a common vision.
- The ability to admit when you are wrong, learn the lessons and come back to work toward the next solution.
- The ability to think 5-10 steps ahead and continuously adapt to current conditions.
- The ability to spot new opportunities in the market and create solutions that also will benefit the community and the planet.
- The ability to ask for help even from those who staunchly disagree with you to drive a larger vision forward.
- The ability to train others to follow in your footsteps and empower them to think beyond what they can see.
- The ability to use different forms of capital —social, human, intellectual and financial — to achieve goals.
As we share this philosophy with students of the LevelUp Institute, we thank our sponsors. Companies like Namecheap.com have stepped up to make this vision possible. They believe that the internet can truly be an equalizer for all, and we echo that sentiment. For more information about Namecheap.com and what they offer, please visit them here.
The LevelUp Institute focuses on creating the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs. The intensive and experiential 24-week program works with low income college students who are first in their family to attend higher education, and helps them create high tech social enterprises. For more information check out levelupinst.com