The 5 Habits of Successful Social Entrepreneurs

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I recently discovered a great post on the Conversation Agent blog about the 12 habits of highly connective people.  The article has inspired me to think about the habits of successful social entrepreneurs or highly social impact-driven people. Here is my list adapted from the Conversation Agent.


1. Believe you can make a difference

Conviction and confidence can get you pretty far.  Ever heard of the Law of Attraction?  Believing in an idea, putting all your focus on it, proactively talking about it to others and generally putting ‘it’ out there helps attract the resources and connect the loose ends in ways you can’t anticipate.  Live and breathe your idea and it will spark for others.

2. Do your homework; know the landscape

A truly original idea is a rare breed.  Usually, social entrepreneurs that succeed with a new idea have adapted an existing idea or combined other ideas in new ways.  The proof is really in the execution.  Before you invest in a new concept, do a little research to understand if others are working on similar projects or if you can build on an existing model.  Collaboration is often the winning strategy.

3.      Borrow (ok, steal) the best ideas from other sectors (but put them to work in innovative ways)

Some of the most effective social impact solutions result from combining proven approaches from other sectors and disciplines.  Think about the Half the Sky movement to bring greater awareness and resources to global education for girls.  This multichannel platform features a book, a documentary, social communities, a facebook game, branded products, celebrity ambassadors, and nonprofit partners all working in concert to further the mission.  It borrows from social gaming, e-commerce, media tech and then layers on compelling storytelling techniques to draw people to the platform and keep them engaged with the cause.

4.      Show the difference you are making every step of the way

‘Transparency’ is probably one of the most over-used words in the social impact space, but it is a vital component to get right.  Communicating your milestones, and setbacks, will build the loyalty of your community, keep people engaged, and inspire them to make a larger contribution (time, talent, funding etc…).  Charity: Water does a fabulous job at showing supporters just how their contribution made a difference to the mission.  Imagine the power of tracing everyone’s $1 from donation to on-the-ground result!

5.      Say thanks

In addition to showing impact, you MUST thank your supporters and acknowledge the others who share your mission or help you along the way.  Similar to the Law of Attraction, the Thank You Economy is powerful stuff.  Gratitude and humility are underrated and, in my opinion, hallmarks of a true visionary and leader.

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