Young: Entrepreneurs are change agents in our society

Fewer than 10 per cent in any venture have the innate ability to think and initiate momentum as entrepreneurs.

Joel YoungAre you ready for the “buy in” of the individual members of your organization?

Personal investment is the challenge now facing many organizations that started in the1990s.

Individuals need to be ignited to a highly focused level of performance for this process to succeed.

The dictionary defines buy in, in terms of considerable risk and initiative. Profitable risk-taking is not a culture that is familiar, comfortable, or even considered normal to many in organizations and companies.

Generally, we are told, less than 10 per cent in any venture have the innate ability to think and initiate momentum as entrepreneurs, i.e. risk takers.

The time has clearly come to accept the need and the challenge of the entrepreneurial spirit.

The challenge is being self-responsible, and may be somewhat contrary to the core reason that many people seek out their place in large or small organizations in the first place.

But change cannot happen just because it is declared or mandated.

The need to create an environment that is conducive to entrepreneurial behaviour and assist members of any organization, be it public, corporate or non-profit, to accept the invitation for personal change and growth and move through their fears and reticent mind set is inevitable.

This is a window of opportunity to embrace the concept of the lemonade stand, which is somewhat of a Canadian Dream Machine, that all of us were given in our early age.

The idea then is to maintain our individual spirit and allow it to transform us into a level of an entrepreneurial spirit so that we may enjoy and savor every moment of its arrival .

I want to offer you this preamble of personal and societal change magic as an entré into some thoughts about a very important and rising concept—that being social entrepreneurship, which truly has struck a responsive cord in our environment.

It is a phrase well-suited to our times and the element of how the entrepreneurial spirit contributes to, not only our change in terms of personal growth but also how it combines the passion of a social mission with an image of the business-like discipline.

The time is certainly ripe for entrepreneurial approaches to our social problems.

Many government and philanthropic efforts appear, it is said, to have fallen short of our expectations.

Major social institutions are often viewed as inefficient, ineffective and unresponsive.

The language of social entrepreneurship may be new to our ears, but the phenomenon is not.

We have always had those dedicated committed individuals in our midst but we did not call them that.

They originally were blessed with creating many of the institutions we now take for granted.

However, the new name and the new game is truly important in that in implies a blurring of sector boundaries.

This adjustment excites an entrepreneurial zealot as myself, because there is an element of then of broader change and yet collaboration that in addition to non for profit ventures, social entrepreneurship can include social purpose business ventures, and hybrid organizations that mix not for profit and for profit elements such as homeless shelters that start businesses to train and employ their residents.

Does that resonate with you – the image of where the world of entrepreneurship can mean more than economics and can contribute to the change in peoples lives whilst helping those in need?

Though the concept of social entrepreneurship is gaining quick popularity throughout our nation and the world, it still means different things to different people.

This can be confusing.

Many of us still associate social entrepreneurship exclusively with not for profit organizations starting for profit or earned income ventures that may have an entrepreneurial bent.

Others use it to describe anyone who starts a not for profit organization.

Still others, and I know a few it seems, who use it to refer to small business owners who integrate their social responsibility into their company operations.

So, let’s take a few moments to address, what does  social entrepreneurship really mean.

What does it take to be a social entrepreneur?

Historically, the literature tells us that an entrepreneur is someone who undertakes a significant project or activity and creates value from that action i.e. shifting economic resources to a higher benefit.

My favourite definition is “the innovative, dynamic process of creating incremental wealth” and the benchmarks of that are innovation and creativity.

Hence, it is true that many of the entrepreneurs serve their function by creating new, innovative profit-seeking ventures, but, guess what folks, starting a business is not the essence of entrepreneurship.

Peter Drucker, the perceived godfather of management literature,  takes us to a new height of definition when he states “the entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it and exploits it as an opportunity “

Thus, in today’s world of entrepreneurship, the notion of opportunity has come to be central to the multitude of definitions of entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs have a beautiful adapted mind-set that sees the possibilities rather than the problems created by change.

For leading scholars like Drucker, launching a new venture is neither necessary nor sufficient for entrepreneurship.

The same, he asserts, would be of new not for profit organizations, that is, simply, not every new organization would be entrepreneurial.

What is truly interesting in conclusion of my musings this day is this: while the ideas of many of the writings and interpretations of the leading scholars are attractive, they can be as easily applied in the social sector as in the business sector.

They do describe a mind-set, as mentioned earlier to you that can be manifest anywhere.  In a world where the various sector boundaries are blurring, this is a wonderful advantage.

We should , therefore, choose to build our understanding of social entrepreneurship and all that it can mean to the definition of change agents in relation to entrepreneurship on a strong tradition of fundamental entrepreneurship theory and research.

Social entrepreneurs, my friends, are one singular species in the broad spectrum of entrepreneurship.

They are simply, entrepreneurs with a social mission.

Mission-related impact becomes the central criterion, not wealth creation.   So, when we decide to embrace the concept of entrepreneurs as change agents, let us please not ignore the breadth and scope of the entrepreneurial spirit.

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