By Mike Levitsky
Simply seeing the panel “Social Entrepreneurs: Stories from the Field” at the UMDs Social Enterprise Symposium recently, has shown me that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and forms. A diverse panel allowed for different perspectives and experiences, each with unique contributions to what social entrepreneurship really means in our society. But, whether fighting against genocide in Africa, making green living the norm, helping women find financial help when no one else would, or bringing a new technology to become the standard in healthcare, these entrepreneurs have presented several traits and tidbits they feel are necessary for “entrepreneurial” success:
- Audacity is great. Don’t be afraid to go big early.
- Always go where you will have the most impact
- Passion makes up where skills lack
- A great TEAM is essential to success
- Be idealistic!
- “I got a great idea….now tell me what’s wrong with it”
- You don’t need anyone’s permission to do what you want to do
- Failing is good
- Entrepreneurship should be learned late in life! only after technical skills are learned should entrepreneurship be studied, so that these skills can be applied in new ways.
It seems this “social entrepreneur” needs to be risky, goal oriented, passionate, idealistic, and rebellious. They need to have the ability to surround themselves with a good team of critics that won’t hold back, and to be able to accept failure time and time again.
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like I’ve heard this before….in any business class that has tried to define entrepreneurship. So what is it that makes these people SOCIAL entrepreneurs?
Nothing, except changing times and trends.
The social conscious-ness of society of changing. We have more than we’ve ever had before. Resources, responsibilities, relationships. For one reason or another, we care more about how our actions impact the earth, others, and ourselves. The trend is impossible to ignore. More companies are claiming to be “socially responsible” through CSR programs to try to strap you to their bandwagon. We can even try to connect this trend to the growing needs of Gen Y’s in the corporate workplace. Simply put, times are changing.
Our generation can make a difference (realism has been replaced by idealism.) In a society experiencing innovation at rates never seen before, with technology making tasks and actions more efficient, while resources become more readily available, the new class of entrepreneurs has shifted its focus towards widespread impact. This, combined with the increased interconnectedness of people around the world due to the growing popularity of social media has allowed for MOST entrepreneurial ventures to be “social.”
No longer is the goal to create some new invention or gadget for its use or functionality. The new goal is to create something that will change markets, change the availability of resources, change how people live.
So join me in making the world a greener place. Save some paper, and lets simply call it “entrepreneurship,” whether it’s social…or it’s social.