Social entrepreneurs grow with the business

One of the challenges of starting up more than one social enterprise was that for a while I found it hard to be anything other than a startup entrepreneur. I’m by no means the only person who has had this problem. I just don’t do corporate behaviour. If I’m not careful, I can get in the way of our colleagues who are trying to do what is necessary to scale up the enterprise.

A key element of success as a social entrepreneur is to grow with the business. I have found that the best way to do this is to empower others and get out of their way as much as possible.

Early in my career I received feedback that I was getting in the way of capable managers and interfering with their ability to do their jobs. I responded by backing off and paying little attention to what they were
doing. This wasn’t a good response as some of them complained about a lack of support.

Over time, I developed the ability to grow with the enterprise. It took me a while, but I changed my approach to leadership. I was probably a bit interfering from time to time, but I learned to stay out of things that I didn’t need to get involved in.

But the main reason for growing with the business is that there are different skills required at each stage of growth. Early on I learned how to fundraise and do a great TV or radio interview. Later I needed to engage with government ministers and became an adept networker despite my inherent shyness. One of the great gifts of setting up and running a social enterprise is that you get to do new things, learn new skills, push yourself into previously uncomfortable situations and gain confidence.

Growing with the business is vital and comes with great benefits.

You can download the 12 Great Qualities of a Social Entrepreneur here

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