Five Attributes of Successful Social Entrepreneurs
Over the years, Flame Tree Initiative has worked with many new and aspiring social entrepreneurs from all walks of life. While there isn't a magic formula for success or an ideal entrepreneurial personality, there are some common traits that we have observed among individuals who have completed our program and have gone on to successfully build their social enterprise.
Social entrepreneurs are particularly different from other entrepreneurs in that they are driven by their mission as opposed to the bottom line. While profit is important to maintain their business operations, their mission is the compass that guides their work. Social entrepreneurs are passionate about delivering solutions to the most pressing development challenges.
Most social entrepreneurs have experienced working in the private sector where there are set rules and expectations. However, managing your own business means that you have to create that for yourself and for the people you work with. By being disciplined, social entrepreneurs develop a strong work ethic that pushes them to see projects and tasks to completion. They are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and they know how to manage their time - even if that means dedicating much of it to their work.
In Flame Tree Initiative's Development Entrepreneurship Lab, one of the modules that we teach is Pivoting and Learning from Failure. There are ups and downs in all businesses. The key to survive the roller coaster ride called entrepreneurship is resiliency. Having the ability to withstand and recover from challenges and failures allow social entrepreneurs to learn new ways to cope and eventually reach success. They ask important questions such as "Why did it not work?" or "How can I do things differently?" Social entrepreneurs recognize that there is an abundance of learning opportunities in challenges and failures. By being flexible and open, they can improve their business and continue to focus on their goals.
Many successful businesses are not started by highly educated men and women. Rather, they are built by creative problem solvers who come up with innovative ways to address different challenges. Social entrepreneurs think outside the box. Their ideas do not stay on paper - they freely and thoroughly explore them. Moreover, social entrepreneurs are not afraid to go back to the drawing board to think of other ways to solve a problem.
Guided by a mission and motivated by a vision, social entrepreneurs know that in order to launch their business, they need to take some risks. These risks may include using their savings for capital or leaving the comfort of a nine to five job with guaranteed income. As their business continues to grow, they are required to continue taking risks. They must possess a sense of confidence and optimism that their ideas will work. This kind of attitude allows them to continue making calculated risks that could propel their business forward.