2. Agent of Social Change
There’s a lot of interest in social advocacy. More and more professionals are not content with only earning a good living.
The sweet spot is finding work that harnesses your skill set and makes a positive contribution. Being driven by a cause more significant than oneself helps keep the fire stoked when facing setbacks.
Primary Characteristics of an Entrepreneurial Agent of Change
If you find yourself relentlessly questioning established customs and practices that almost everyone else seems to accept, you just might have what it takes to be a successful agent of change. This is especially true when long-accepted behaviors come with a trade-off that causes serious downstream problems.
Ask Yourself: What am I passionate about? What opportunities might there be to effect positive change and simultaneously make a profit?
Are you aware of any downsides to the industry in which you make your living? What sorts of complaints do others make about your business?
Social entrepreneurs tend to pay close attention whenever they encounter issues that many will brush off as “someone else’s job.”
Entrepreneurs who seek to become agents of positive change anticipate opposition but are not easily dissuaded by naysayers. Instead, they sift through feedback, looking for any random pearls of wisdom they might have overlooked.
In short, this type of entrepreneur finds value where others might come up empty.
3. Innovator Within a Larger Company
For many mid-career professionals, working to effect mutually beneficial change within a larger company is a more viable option. This avenue is especially appealing to those who may not be in a position to take on the risks associated with solo entrepreneurship.
Possible innovations might include working with the C-suite decision-makers to partner with a local nonprofit, starting a foundation closely aligned with company products and services, or suggesting alternative uses for resources that might lie dormant occasionally.
Primary Characteristics of a Large-Company Innovator
Certainly, spotting areas of waste within any organization is an opportunity either to repurpose unused resources or at least reduce future supply orders. An entrepreneurial spirit keeps one eye on the bottom line while actively considering the welfare of its community.
Above all, a large-company entrepreneur will be equally skilled at cultivating relationships with executives and factory floor employees. The ability to form a coalition of supportive employees across an entire organization is a primary feature of this type of innovator.
Ask Yourself: Is my company making a positive impact on the local community? Which efforts am I personally willing to spearhead?
Beyond providing jobs and an expanded tax base, where can this company reasonably hope to make a dent without jeopardizing revenues? Is my company already participating in local efforts to improve sustainability, affordable housing, or overall quality of life? How can these efforts be augmented or enhanced?
4. Founder of a Scalable Enterprise
This type of entrepreneur starts a new venture with an existing exit strategy. In other words, the success of their startup is only the first step in a chain.
After the new business has launched, the founder works to shore up the stability of the “mother ship.” The initial offering is then available to potential investors looking to replicate its success. Ultimately, the founder may even plan to divest themselves and move on to another challenge.
Benchmarks for moving forward with a scalable enterprise would be a high margin of profit, pent-up demand for the product or service, and enthusiasm on the part of potential investors.
Silicon Valley, for example, serves as the most obvious case in point. Many of today’s technology giants started in someone’s garage or spare bedroom, only to scale up as revenue, interest, and market response grew.
Primary Characteristics of the Founder of a Scalable Enterprise
Of all four types of entrepreneurs, seeking to be the founder of a scalable startup is almost certainly the riskiest. While you could easily have a great idea that hasn’t been exploited to its full potential, it’s a safe bet that competition will be intense and unrelenting.
Entrepreneurs who scale successfully tend to be that rare type who is equally adept at both right- and left-brain thinking. If not, they tend to have a partner with whatever skill set they lack.
Ask Yourself: Do I have an idea for a product or service that could significantly improve other people’s lives? Have I come up with something that is both innovative and unique? How might this concept play out in other markets?
Do I have access to the people and resources I need to pull this off? Have I found enthusiastic partners? Who is laying their money on the table? Am I willing to face intense competition and keep plowing forward?
Scalable businesses typically require more investment on the front end. As a business grows, the percentage of profit should go up.