Many business entrepreneurs have become successful in their chosen field not only because they had the resources to start their own business but also through the unique skills and characteristics that they have deployed and exhibited in the process. Anyone who has the same set of skills can be an entrepreneur but how about taking on its more socially responsible counterpart? Answering this question means understanding the difference between business and social entrepreneurship and pointing out the key qualities that make the latter more unique and more sustainable.
So what are the primary characteristics of a good social entrepreneur? First of all, they should be:
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While many people believe that passion in entrepreneurship is overrated, it’s actually one of the most important qualities that every social entrepreneur should have. Passion acts as a self-motivator not only to achieve greater heights in business but also to have the genuine willingness to make an impact to the community it serves. The lack of it, on the other hand, can weaken one’s interest in planning long-term efforts and aiming for sustainable goals.
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Social entrepreneurship is about building a business while making the world a better place. This is why it’s important to understand people not just by listening to what they need to say but by also seeing their reality from their perspective. Through empathy, you can get the necessary insight to create a better and more suitable strategy to further your cause.
Lastly, one should be:
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Success in any field always starts with a vision, an optimistic and creative take on what’s ahead. Social entrepreneurs should be imaginative, innovative, and most importantly, should have the vision to value wisdom when planning for the future of their enterprise and how it can help its community for the better.
Aiming to become a successful social entrepreneur? An article on Forbes suggests four things you must carry out to achieve such goal:
Social entrepreneurs know what it’s like to be motivated by purpose. The potential to make a difference is enticing and exciting for nonprofit and social enterprise founders – it’s what fuels us. And although we have passion, sometimes our passion can inhibit our ability to ask for help.
Just because you have passion doesn’t mean you have all the answers.
While proposed solutions to social problems may be well-intentioned, making an impact is often multi-faceted with a variety of barriers, solutions and ideas. By asking for help and learning from others, social entrepreneurs can increase their probability of building a product or creating a company that has the potential to truly impact the lives of others.
Here’s how to position yourself for greater success as a social entrepreneur:
1. Surround yourself with mentors.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and so have thousands of others) – get a mentor. Even if you don’t work in a large organization; even if you don’t know what you might need help with yet; even if you don’t know who to ask, you still need a mentor. And if the lack of access to mentors is a problem, reach out to other business owners or people you admire and ask around to get connected. It’s important to fill your inexperience – or supplement it – with the perspective and advice of others.
2. Join a network of industry leaders.
Whether the network is an existing, prestigious network or an informally created one, find a group of likeminded entrepreneurs or industry experts that you can plug into virtually or through regular meetings. If you’re tackling homelessness, tech, human trafficking or other issues that are pressing society, you’ll benefit from learning from others and sharing knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work in tackling social problems. Plus, entrepreneurship can be lonely – by plugging into a professional network, you’re also likely to form friendships over similar interests in entrepreneurship.
3. Staff your organization and board of directors wisely.
As a leader, you might feel the need to be the most powerful or knowledgeable person in your organization. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. If you have passion and vision for your company and are committed to growing as a leader, you’ve got what you need. Now, be honest in your assessment of your skills and staff your company and board with people who will bring a wealth of knowledge to benefit your business. This will keep you humble and growing while your business reaps the benefits of experience and knowledge that you may not have yet.
4. Acknowledge your inexperience.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is admit that you don’t know it all. While it may seem like others would doubt your expertise or abilities, it’s often the opposite. People admire humble leaders and appreciate transparency. By admitting your inexperience, you are more likely to attract and retain mentors, board members and employees that will work alongside you to grow your business. Plus, no one ever knows it all. Admitting this early will help you create a foundation for lifelong humility in your leadership, which will naturally benefit your organization by the ability to learn from others and pivot in your strategy when advised or necessary.
Said best by John C. Maxwell, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” Be the kind of leader that is humble and willing to ask for help. Do your homework and learn as much as you can. By being positioned internally to grow, learn and ask, you will be surrounded by people willing to help or willing to invest in you as a leader.
Your vision and your execution of it will ebb and flow overtime. Be the kind of leader to handle the pivots and challenges in stride, through mentors, networking, humility and a great team willing to help and supplement your weaknesses.
When we think about celebrities and their lifestyle, we often imagine is a world of fame and fortune where success can be defined by the awards and prestige that they can acquire over the years. Such is the typical story that we repeatedly see in the news but not everyone knows that many top stars have been taking the road less travelled by making the world a better place through the combination of their individual entrepreneurial feats and philanthropic efforts.
Let’s take a look at the top celebrity entrepreneur-philanthropists that are changing the world and leading the way to a new and better future.
Jay-Z and Beyonce
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With a combined net worth of $810 million, the couple’s fortune began in music but both have expanded their empire in the business world. While Beyonce owns her own fashion brand ‘House of Deréon’ and a line of personal fragrance, Jaz-Z runs his own entertainment company Roc Nation, LLC. He has also a clothing line (Rocawear) that sold in 2007 for $204 million. Although the couple is not very outspoken when it comes to their philanthropic efforts, their charitable contributions are doing the talking, participating in community efforts through the BeyGood foundation and Jay Z’s Trust Fund for Sean Bell’s Children.
Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg
Image source: fortune.com
Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla are the youngest couple to be included in CNN’s 10 wealthiest couples in the world and has a combined net worth of $38.5 billion. It was in 2010 when Zuckerberg committed to give away the majority of his wealth by signing the Giving Pledge and in 2014, the couple donated $25 million to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation to fight Ebola.
John Travolta and Kelly Preston
Image source: closerweekly.com
Travolta was the guest speaker of this year’s City Gala organized by Entrepreneur Media. The event featured stars and entrepreneurs, highlighting celebrity philanthropic efforts and how it can make the world a better place one cause at a time. Travolta and Preston founded the Jett Travolta Foundation in 2009 after the death of their son to support several specific causes for women and children in need.
Efforts to making the world and its many businesses more sustainable will largely depend on how we use, conserve, and maximize available resources. Here is an article from GreenBiz that illustrates how business and sustainability experts are striving to “go circular,” implementing more reliable processes for sustainable inputs, improving product design, and closing material loops.
In a resource-constrained world, there’s no room for waste. Getting creative with the way we obtain, use and dispose of materials will be key for a successful and sustainable global economy.
Business and sustainability experts across the globe are making a move to “go circular,” implementing better processes for sustainable inputs, improving product design and closing material loops.
This is the basis of the circular economy. It’s also one of the biggest business opportunities of our generation.
The Business and Sustainable Development Commission report, Better Business Better World, indicates that achieving the SDGs could create at least $12 trillion in business value by 2030 and generate up to 380 million jobs. The report highlights the circular economy as being one of five key game-changing business models that are helping to realize the SDGs and the market opportunities that they represent.
The circular economy itself is a $4.5 trillion opportunity, according to Accenture forecasts. Who wouldn’t want to get involved?
Recent research shows that eight materials are responsible for 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, 95 percent of water reuse and 80 percent of land use. Implementing circular economy principles for these materials could help address climate change, water scarcity and land-use issues.
Solutions in food and shelter are the two biggest priorities with the most positive impact potential.
The world of entrepreneurship is highly competitive and anyone who wishes to successfully overcome the challenges of this environment should not only adapt to its ever-changing trends but should also possess the most critical skills in the business.
However, most people believe that these skills are innate and one who isn’t born with them can no longer have the chance to make it big in the market world. Nonetheless, whether this claim is true or not, experts have suggested that developing the right habits can be a better and more efficient alternative. So how do we define the best practices that make a successful businessman?
If you are a neophyte entrepreneur, the demand in skills and talent can be intimidating. However, developing the following business habits can guarantee you a great start on the first stages of your business ventures:
Setting daily productivity goals.
Focusing on being productive every day is a habit that young businessmen should have. It’s important to realize the value of being able to accomplish even just simple goals from one’s to-do list. Remember, no goal is big or small if you just have to right attitude.
Developing an eye for details.
Pay attention to everything that you encounter every day. This habit of focusing on the present and concentrating on the details of any activity that you’re engaged in is an effective way to develop a range of critical business skills such.
Practicing your mental reflexes.
Having the ability to think quickly and respond to a dynamic environment can be honed through the habit of continuous practice and keen observation. For someone to successfully run a business in a competitive market, being nimble and making instantaneous but wise decisions can make a huge difference.
Fewer women invest in businesses than their male counterparts, and this is probably the main reason why many female-led, women-focused enterprises do not get enough funding that they otherwise deserve. Here’s an article from The Telegraph to discuss this issue in more detail:
Female-run businesses are failing to raise the money they need to succeed, says Kirsty Grant, the investment director of Seedrs, one of the biggest crowdfunding platforms in the UK, and it is all because of a shortage of female angels.
“There’s a lack of women investors coming through,” Grant says. “If female-led businesses aren’t getting funding, we’re missing out on some potentially great businesses. Not just female-led ventures but, crucially, female-focused ones.”
One recent Seedrs campaign that fell short of its funding target was Evarae, a line of high-end swimwear, created by a former Topshop designer.
“It was a beautiful campaign but it couldn’t get across the line,” Grant says. “Research shows women aren’t investing money anywhere. They are holding funds in cash and sometimes property but very few are investing in stocks and shares.
“Yet when a female VC backs a female-led start-up it is 21pc more likely to succeed.” Hayley Wells, a 24-year-old Coca Cola executive, bucks the trend. She invested in Evarae’s Seedrs campaign and was surprised when it did not make its target.
“I felt that men didn’t get the opportunity,” she says. “But because I back businesses that I like and understand, I saw the potential.”
Social entrepreneur (noun).A person who pursues an innovative idea with the potential to solve a community problem. These individuals are willing to take on the risk and effort to create positive changes in society through their initiatives. (Source: Investopedia)
After a much sought-out realization, social entrepreneurs have decided to change the world with their passion, determination, and ingenuity. With society being topsy-turvy most of the time, this oftentimes becomes a great challenge. Indeed, they have their work cut out for them. Furthermore, social entrepreneurship isn’t being taught in schools. So for the newcomers, that’s one more thing to worry about. True enough, they’ll learn on the job, but it won’t hurt to be prepared. According to some, starting out as a business leader might be the best way to equip oneself with the right tools to become a successful social entrepreneur.
As business leaders, they know what it takes for a startup to take off and extend their reach. The sad reality of the world is that most new businesses shut down within a year or two. If one’s business runs out of money, it certainly won’t bode well for the cause. Experienced business leaders all know too well how to raise capital, make the organization grow, and generate profit.
Furthermore, before a business leader can become who he is today, a lot of sweat needs to be shed first. With their years of experience and firsthand knowledge, they are able to network effectively which leads to opportunities. Social entrepreneurs will certainly benefit from this.
Lastly, social entrepreneurs need to sell without the buyer receiving just compensation for his investment. That’s a pretty disadvantageous position, but business leaders have honed and developed their sales prowess. They have the ability to take the enterprise to even greater heights.
Even in the most unusual of business approaches, collaboration is key to achieving success on any venture, advancing the lives of others, and creating societal change. Read this FORBES article for more meaningful insights.
Rebellion and entrepreneurship often go hand in hand. For successful entrepreneurs, it’s a skill that must be fostered in order to make your way through the crowd and build a successful business. But although entrepreneurial rebellion is an important skillset, there’s a fine line when this rebellion is helpful to your cause and when it becomes detrimental to your organization.
For social entrepreneurs, this balance must be handled delicately.
Social entrepreneurship requires perseverance and the knowledge that you may need to break the rules – within reason – to get things done and build your business. This should be done in an intentional, well-thought-out and strategic manner. If you’re going to break the rules, know why you’re breaking them – and then blaze the trail for a new status quo.
Entrepreneurial rebellion should be done only when something about the current process or outcome needs to be improved. Being rebellious should not be done to spite others or make a statement – leverage rebellion intentionally with the goal of advancing your organization’s mission. And for social entrepreneurs, this mission is likely advancing the lives of others or creating societal change. Understand that your actions have downstream impacts and execute your strategies wisely.
When rebellion is used, it often comes with downfalls – alienation, bitterness, bad-mouthing traditional processes and organizations, or more. This puts entrepreneurs in a silo, often left out of the conversation and uninvited to the table. Handled inappropriately, entrepreneurial rebellion can backfire, so it’s important to do it the right way while working with others.
As you embrace entrepreneurial rebellion in hopes of advancing a social mission, make sure to stay balanced in how you work with others. Here’s how you will benefit:
1. Meaningful collaboration
For entrepreneurs who are overly rebellious, the opportunity for meaningful collaboration is often missed. Working with others, sharing tools and tips, and even working together on special projects can help transform small, incremental change into systematic change that can impact entire communities or societal systems. Collaboration brings diverse minds, skills and perspectives to the table. And if you’re working toward a common goal, collaboration and partnership may be the differentiating factor between winning and losing.
2. The ability to share failures
A valuable aspect of working with others is the ability to share failures. Although you may bash “The System,” this system likely has failures you can learn from. Don’t throw out and disregard the learnings that may exist in the experience of corporate culture, even if it’s not the culture you hope to emulate. Learn from it, and embrace the stories and advice from those who have tried and failed. This will help you avoid the same pitfalls as you continue your own entrepreneurial journey.
3. A network of support
If your rebellion burns bridges with other organizations, mentors or former colleagues, you lose valuable support. Entrepreneurship is hard, and building a business to impact others is challenging. Support from peers and others who know your industry or particular business is an important element to being a successful entrepreneur. If you cut off the community that can support you on good days and bad, your morale, team and company may suffer the consequences.
Best said by Marissa Mayer, “When you need to innovate, you need collaboration.” Be rebellious, break the rules and create a new status quo if this is what it will take to make societal change. But as you blaze the trail and develop new social innovations or models for impacting the world, don’t lose sight of the value in working with others.
There are a lot of investment options out there. To the go-getter investor, there is nothing stopping him from accumulating gains and building his wealth. More investment opportunities exist today than ever before. Stocks, bonds, put options, call options, exchange traded funds, reverse ETFs, mutual funds and hedge funds of all shapes and sizes are there for the choosing. All those options for investing combined with the low interest rate climate and relatively easy credit creates the perfect environment to invest and build wealth. The financial instruments available to investors these days make it possible for one to make money even if the stock market crashes. The key, however is to choose the right investment out of all the thousands to choose from.
Another risk that arises from such a dynamic marketplace is the risk of getting scammed. Cheated, conned, fooled, ripped off. Yes, the free market is a wonderful place to do business in. Only you can limit your potential. But it’s also rife with competition, self-interest, conflicts of interest, greed, false claims and deception. Investing is not just about knowing where to put your money, it’s also about protecting it.
So how do you NOT get scammed in the free market? Here are a few things you should consider.
When an investment seems too good to be true, it probably is. At best, there’s a catch that remains undisclosed to you. To every investment there is a best case and a worst case scenario. Usually, those who want your money will highlight the best case and keep quiet about the worst possible case that can happen for you. It’s your job as an investor to understand about the worst case. Make sure you research and ask around before diving into an investment opportunity. If your stock broker was one hundred percent sure about that stock, he wouldn’t recommend that you buy itanymore. He would be shutting his mouth and be the one buying all of it instead.
Take the case of junk bonds. These unsecured corporate loans offer an unusually high rate of return. An investor might be attracted to the returns but he also has to consider the risk of default. Usually, higher returns entail a higher risk to the investor. And as we have seen in the past few months, a number of funds invested in junk bonds like Third Avenue have defaulted on their obligations to investors.
Beware of the Ponzi scheme. There was Bernie Madoff and even more recently, Martin Shkreli. The Ponzi or pyramid scheme is a form of market fraud where an institution pays unusually high returns to its investors but sources those funds from other investors rather than from its operating or trading gains. In a pyramid scheme, usually the ones who invest at the early stages have the best chances of getting paid. But as more and more people join the pyramid scheme, the market gets saturated and the last ones to join get paid nothing. Assuming a pyramid scheme can go on undetected until every human on earth has joined, it will still eventually collapse once the pyramid runs out of new investors to fund payouts to old investors. It’s an unsustainable system and that’s why it’s illegal.
Know the methods of market manipulation. Some people who have enough shares to move the demand and supply of a certain investment may also have the ability to move the price to their benefit – and to your detriment. When you sense price or volume movement that seems contrived – stay out.
For example, in an Initial Public Offering (IPO), an underwriter can squeeze the float so that there is just a limited supply of the issue offered. He would do that so he can sell his IPO allocation at a higher aftermarket price. Conversely, someone who holds a lot of a certain stock may start dumping his shares to create a panic and then buy back everything at a much lower price than he sold it for.
A research analyst may issue a BUY recommendation long after his institution has accumulated the stock. The analyst issues the glowing report,encouraging you to buy so that his institution can sell whatever they accumulated at a gain. After they sell everything, the analyst might issue a SELL recommendation so they can buy back. So on and so forth.
Now underwriters or analysts don’t generally do such things. But you should not discount the existence of risk and conflicts of interest in the marketplace.These are all examples of how a market manipulator can benefit at your expense.By just being aware of the worst that can happen, you can improve your chances of avoiding it.
By knowing and avoiding these pitfalls, you can make more intelligent investment decisions. You can eliminate the bad deals from the start. You can then focus on the real, legitimate investment opportunities that work. Start by finding the good and the honest and from there, you can discover the real gems – the brilliant, the revolutionary, the long-lasting investments that will set you up on your way to wealth.
I just had to turn down another call from a credit card a while ago. It seems, almost every week, a bank calls to offer me a loan. They won’t tell me the interest rate unless I ask. They would usually just say, I should avail of this and this sum. It seems there’s so much money floating around these days.
With such an abundant supply and easy access to credit, it’s easy to feel you’re “wealthy.” Things with prices that would normally leave you aghast if you had to pay for them in cash, suddenly become affordable. I mean, divided by thirty-six monthly payments, it doesn’t seem so bad anymore.
I’ll let you in on a secret. My friend used to own a financing company. I didn’t work for that financing company, but I had to make a computation for a car loan for one of our consultants. So I computed the loan and prepared the typical loan amortization schedule one would make. One column for the monthly payment, two columns that would break down that monthly payment into its interest and principal components, and a fourth column to show the remaining principal balance after taking into account that last monthly payment.
I then presented the draft amortization table to my friend. But to my surprise, he got a bit irritated and asked me why in the world would I want to show all of that at the start.
And so, I learned one modus operandi of some creditors. As much as they have the power to distract you, they don’t want you thinking about the interest expense on that loan. They would like you to focus on the benefits of the loan. That shiny, glimmering body of your Audi S8 and a vision of you stepping out of it, or that wonderful vacation in El Nido with you taking in the sun, sipping coconut juice. The bank loan agent, with his fingers crossed, hopes you get intoxicated by that vision up to the point that you make that last signature on the last page of the loan agreement. Of course, you also signed a loan disclosure page that details the interest rate, the loan term and even the breakdown of interest and principal. But the point is, if you got distracted enough, you would have just breezed through all of it without worrying at all about the implications.
Once your hand has made that last scribble that finally commits you to 60 months of installments to the bank, the loan officer gives a sigh of relief. Another deal closed. And you, still on fire for that latest acquisition, remain oblivious to everything that took place– as to the bank and the loan officer’s side of the story.
Sadly, this is how a lot of people find themselves entrapped and buried in a cave-in of debt. They see their credit lines purely as privilege that grants them access to every good thing in the world. Only too late do they realized there was also a cost involved – a cost they should have counted before they decided to avail of the privilege.
So what should a prospective borrower do to counteract this kind of tactic?
Ask for a loan amortization table.You need to understand the relationship between principal, interest rate, time and the monthly amortization (payments) for this to be more effective. The loan officer will quote you a fixed amount that you have to pay every month. It would be wise to already inquire of him from the beginning as to how that monthly amortization is computed. That way he’ll know you are really studying his offer and are not just going to sign-off without thinking.
Compare interest rates. Some institutions quote interest rates on an annual basis. For example, the loan officer would say, “our interest is 12%.” If silent about the term, it usually pertains to a full year’s interest. Some banks however, especially those offering credit card loans, may quote interest on a monthly basis. For example, 0.99% per month. So make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
Check how interest is computed. Some institutions compute based on a declining balance of principal. Since your principal decreases as you keep on paying it off, the interest computed also periodically decreases. For example, two financing companies, Company A and Company B, may both quote an interest rate of 12%. Company A computes interest based on a monthly declining balance while Company B computes interest based on an annual declining balance. Which has the better deal? Company A has the better deal since it takes into account monthly decreases in principal. Company B charges you interest based on the principal at the start of the year only (which is much bigger than your principal by the time the year ends). At the end of the loan term, you would have paid more interest to Company B than Company A even if they both charged an interest rate of 12%.
Investments are a powerful way to grow money because of the power of interest earned. Interest compounds your wealth over time. However, it is the same power that works to suck up all your income when you are the borrower paying the interest expense.
Still, using other people’s money, if done intelligently, particularly to finance or leverage your investments, can also grow your wealth. Just be sure you check the amortization schedule, the interest rates and the interest computations from the start.