The skills a social entrepreneur needs are similar to those of a business entrepreneur, i.e., very robust and diverse, since you will be wearing multiple hats for at least the first phase of startup. The most important skill, however, is having a strong and communicable vision. Once you've identified the gaps in the sector and created your business model, you will need to apply other skills at a more hands-on level:
- Commercial: Strategy, project management and business modeling.
- IT: Web design and social media.
- Finance: Cash management, taxes, VAT, PAYE and invoicing.
- Legal: How to set up your business, incorporate it, understand regulations and report quarterly as required.
- Marketing: Networking, selling your idea and engaging people emotionally through visual storytelling.
- Leadership: Cultivating organizational culture; this skill underlies all of the above and is crucial to your long-term success. Says Peter Drucker, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast."
Underscoring the hard skills with which you'll run the business are the traits you'll use to implement them. Often confused with skills, traits are in fact an approach, or a style of delivery.
- Solutions-based approach: Use, produce or bring about social innovation to to solve a problem.
- Commitment: Dedication to your goals and an intense focus.
- Balanced perspective: Nurture other aspects of your life to maintain well-being for the lifelong journey of your enterprise.
- Passion and drive: Keep fire in your belly to implement and shape social change and stick with it during the inevitable ups and downs.
- Willingness to learn: Be a sponge and absorb knowledge on the key areas of the business and new social issues.
- Inner voice: Trust your instincts, listen to your heart and be true to your passion. This conviction will take you through many tough decisions.
- Stay real and focused: Keep your project real. If you are super determined, you may be able to pull off something quite ambitious but you have to keep your feet on the ground and stay focused, too.
Next page: Simple steps