There are more than a few varying definitions of success out there, each one with its own nuances and specifics that can differentiate them from another. It can even be argued that there are as many definitions for success as there are people who want to succeed. However, despite the potential differences, there are actually a number of traits that are common to social entrepreneurs who pull it off and meet their definition of success. The specifics can differ from one social entrepreneur to another, but the general traits are consistent.
1. Do What You Enjoy
This is perhaps one of the oldest bits of advice people will get when it comes to being a social entrepreneur. It is more cliché than anything else, but it is still valid advice when it comes down to it. A businessman who is running a company in an area he has no interest in is a businessman who is not going to put his best effort into it, whether consciously or not. The reality is that when people are doing what they enjoy doing for a living, they’re much happier with the results of their business, even if the gains start out modest. Being a social entrepreneur means taking a long, hard road to success, so it should be something the businessman can stick with.
2. Take Things Seriously
The simple fact is that social entrepreneurs do not succeed by just hoping things go their way. The business has to be taken seriously, even if it’s just a home-based operation. Don’t get sidetracked when its business time and find ways to keep motivated and grinding away at the business until it turns in a steady income. Listen to constructive criticisms but ignore the naysayers – there is a key difference between someone who makes a negative comment and someone who puts the business down. Learn to discern one from the other and don’t let the latter get in the way of the business.
3. Plan Plans, Make Contingencies
Planning the business and every aspect of it is critical to success. The less that a social entrepreneur has to make up as he goes along, the less problematic it will be for him to find a route to success. However, he should also take care to spend a lot of time on contingencies. A number of outside factors can affect a business drastically, so it is good to try and be ready for as many of those as possible. No one can plan for everything, but it helps business survivability if the entrepreneur is prepared for the more common pitfalls.
4. Money Management Matters
Capital is the cornerstone of any business – home-based or otherwise. A good social entrepreneur knows how to manage the limited finances that businesses start out with, along with the limited early cash flow. In any given business, there will always be bills to be paid, equipment to be maintained, supplies to be replenished and people to be paid. Good social entrepreneurs learn how to balance budgets and manage their meager finances very quickly or find their business sinking faster than a ship called “Titanic.”
5. Pursue the Sale
The best social entrepreneurs remember that even if customers are interested and practically have their wallets out already, it won’t do any good if the business never asks for the sale. A social entrepreneur knows that once all the convincing is done, the sale still needs to be asked for.
6. All about the Customer
A home business is not about the products or services being sold. It isn’t about the marketing plan or the clever strategies that social entrepreneurs use. It is about satisfying one of the needs of the customer. The customer is what the business is ultimately about and a social entrepreneur who remembers that is one that has a chance to succeed.
7. Shameless Self-Promotion
It is a myth that a great service or product will be discovered by the masses independently. The reality is that, more often than not, the social entrepreneur must make the effort to market his own product to the world at large. Self-promotion is particularly important for those that are working on a home business, since it is one of the more effective tools at their disposal.
8. A Positive Image
Nobody likes negativity, even if it can sometimes be very useful for a business. Therefore, a good social entrepreneur knows that one of the keys to success is to keep the image and reputation of the business as positive as possible. They don’t have the advantage of nice storefronts or elaborate office complexes to impress customers, so their image and appearance is even more important. Keep it professional, keep it organized and keep it positive.
9. Use Technology
Technology is something that can help keep the playing field much more level than it would normally be between a home business and a competitor. A two-person business can have a website vastly superior to a larger company, allowing them to better promote their goods and services. Social entrepreneurs of every level take the time to learn how technology can be used to their advantage.
10. Have a Team
No one man is able to build a successful business alone. At best, one man is able to get it off the ground and to a good start, but sooner or later, the amount of work that needs to be done will exceed one man’s ability to do it all. Try and build a team not only for support as the stress builds, but also for advice and help in the day-to-day operations of the business. Social entrepreneurs based in their own homes still need to network, after all.
11. Know the Customers
A business that doesn’t know its own customers is a business that isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Know what the target market for the product or service is, what it wants out of that type of product and how the business can offer that group more value for their money.
12. Expertise; Get It
People will often be willing to ask an expert in the field for advice on something they know little about. Social entrepreneurs know this and are willing to take advantage of it. The more the person running a home-based business knows about what he’s doing, the more people will trust that the business is being run competently and is good at what it does. This also helps promote the business as the reputation builds – instead of seeking out clients, clients often come looking for experts.
13. Create an Advantage
Like any other business, a home-based enterprise must have a unique, well-defined selling proposition. Simply put, it must be able to answer the question “Why would a customer want to buy from here and not other companies that produce the same thing?” As any good social entrepreneur knows, a business that cannot do that is one that has no chance of hitting it big.
The top social entrepreneurs all buy business and marketing books, as well as read whatever materials are available that help them improve their understanding of business and what can affect things. A social entrepreneur must be willing to invest in themselves to improve their skills and broaden their knowledge. They don’t underestimate how useful a very skilled and effective businessman can be to their business.
Being accessible is crucial to the modern business world for home-based social entrepreneurs. In a world where being able to get almost anything instantly is expected, a business that is difficult to contact is going to turn a lot of potential customers off.
16. Sell Benefits
A product needs to be pushed, but very few starting businessmen know how to do that. The best push the benefits provided by the product, not the features. This means that the advertising and marketing should focus on the function that the product or service fulfills and not any additional bonuses it might have on top of that.
17. Grab Attention
A small business owner, especially one operating from home, does not have all of the resources or time that big companies can waste on prolonged exposure campaigns. The key to advertising and marketing for a small business is not to expose customers to it over a long time, but to strike fast and grab attention as quickly as possible.
18. Negotiate Like a Pro
Every social entrepreneur will need to know how to negotiate, need to know the delicate science of knowing what the other side is willing to give and being able to ask just a little bit more. Businesses require that negotiation skills be used on an almost-daily basis, so it is critical that the social entrepreneur get a grasp of its principles as early as possible.
There are a lot of things to keep track of in a business, which means that a social entrepreneur that can’t keep everything organized is going to fail. Have systems in place for handling things, along with an established chain of command to take over in case the people in charge can’t do their jobs. Have plans and goals for the business that start at the short-term and branch out into the long game.
20. Wear One Hat, Delegate the Rest
In this case, “hat” means “role.” A good social entrepreneur is able to multitask, this is true. However, as the business grows, it becomes less and less crucial for one man to be able to do everything. What becomes critical as time passes is the ability to delegate. Select one task or role that matches the skills and abilities and then delegate other roles to those who are better at them.
Success is hard to define because everyone thinks of it differently. However, for the most conventional forms of success, there are more than a few traits that the “masters of the universe” have in common.
Latest posts by Lorna Li (see all)
- [E4C56] Living From The Big Glow Within – Brian Piergrossi - October 21, 2014
- [E4C55] How to Reach 1 Million Podcast Downloads on iTunes – Daniel J. Lewis of Audacity to Podcast - October 14, 2014
- [E4C54] How Mompreneurs Can Start Home-Based Social Enterprises that Change the World, Shannon Keith of International Princess™ Project - October 7, 2014