“Do well by doing good.” — Benjamin Franklin
In the dynamic world of entrepreneurship, two distinct personas emerge—the traditional entrepreneur and the social entrepreneur.
These archetypes, though distinct, hold within them powerful messages that transcend the surface.
The traditional entrepreneur, driven by financial gain and shareholder interests, showcases determination and innovation while sometimes leaning towards self-interest.
On the other side, the social entrepreneur thrives on maximizing social value, displaying creativity, and upholding a heightened social conscience.
However, beneath this comparison lies a deeper understanding of value creation, innovation, and the balance between personal and social objectives.
The paths of these entrepreneurs are more than choices; they are gateways to impactful transformation, echoing the potential for business to shape a better world.
Personality Traits of Traditional vs. Social Entrepreneurs
Here is how the visual from Emerald Global compared a “traditional entrepreneur with a “social” entrepreneur:
Someone who habitually creates and innovates to build something of recognized value around perceived opportunities.
- Motivated by financial gain
- Seeks personal shareholder gain
- Higher levels of self-interest
- Lower levels of social conscience
- Higher level of drive & determination
Someone who seeks to maximize social value or social capital from non-profit pursuits to solve social problems.
- Motivated by social gain
- Highly innovative & creative
- Lower levels of self-interest
- Higher levels of social conscience
- Higher level of risk taking
You can read this comparison in a number of ways, but here’s what this comparison seems to say without reading into it too much:
A traditional entrepreneur is driven by financial gain, focusing on creating recognized value through innovation and seizing perceived opportunities. They prioritize personal shareholder gain, often demonstrating higher levels of self-interest and determination, while their social conscience tends to be less pronounced.
On the other hand, a social entrepreneur aims to maximize social value by creatively addressing societal problems, motivated by social gain. They exhibit lower levels of self-interest, a heightened social conscience, and a greater willingness to take risks in pursuit of positive social impact.
A “Social” vs. “Self” Orientation
The provided comparison between traditional entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs offers valuable insights into contrasting motivations and approaches.
However, there are some key messages and deeper insights that might not be immediately obvious:
- Value Beyond Profit: While traditional entrepreneurs focus on financial gain and shareholder value, social entrepreneurs emphasize creating value beyond profit. They prioritize generating positive social impact and addressing pressing issues in society, even if financial gains are not their primary driver.
- Innovation and Creativity: The distinction highlights the high level of innovation and creativity often associated with social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs are driven to find novel solutions to complex social challenges, which can require unique and innovative approaches.
- Balancing Self-Interest: The comparison suggests that social entrepreneurs have lower levels of self-interest. This underscores their commitment to the well-being of communities and society as a whole, often making personal sacrifices to achieve their social mission.
- Risk and Impact: Social entrepreneurs are portrayed as having a higher level of risk-taking. This stems from their willingness to tackle systemic social problems that may have uncertain outcomes. Their focus is on achieving meaningful societal impact rather than solely pursuing safe financial returns.
- Consciousness and Conscience: A key insight is the difference in levels of social conscience. Social entrepreneurs are depicted as having a higher social conscience, indicating a deep awareness of societal needs and a commitment to addressing them for the greater good.
- Driving Force: Traditional entrepreneurs often emphasize drive and determination, which are also present in social entrepreneurs. However, the driving force for social entrepreneurs goes beyond personal ambition, rooted in a mission to drive positive change and improve lives.
- Hybrid Models: The comparison doesn’t explicitly touch on the potential for hybrid models where entrepreneurs blend both financial and social goals. Many entrepreneurs today are exploring business models that generate profit while also creating social value, blurring the lines between traditional and social entrepreneurship.
- Long-Term Impact: Social entrepreneurs tend to prioritize long-term societal impact over short-term gains. They are often focused on creating sustainable solutions that lead to lasting positive changes, even if progress is gradual.
The comparison provides insights into the motivations and priorities of traditional and social entrepreneurs, highlighting their distinct approaches to creating value and making a difference in the world.
When You Move Up Maslow’s Stack, You Focus on the Greater Good
Over my 20+ years at Microsoft, I’ve seen a recurring theme in incredibly capable leaders:
as individuals progress through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, their focus undergoes a transformative shift.
Maslow’s hierarchy is a framework that outlines different levels of human needs, from basic physiological requirements to the pinnacle of self-actualization.
At this apex, the concept of “Satisfied needs no longer motivate,” articulated by Stephen Covey, comes into play. As people reach self-actualization, their attention naturally extends beyond personal concerns to the broader sphere of social impact.
They start to focus on something bigger than themselves.
Maslow’s hierarchy is essentially a pyramid of human needs, starting with physiological needs like food, shelter, and safety, then ascending through psychological needs for love, belonging, esteem, and culminating in self-actualization—a state of fulfilling one’s potential and seeking personal growth.
Keep in mind, it’s not a strict pyramid or hierarchy. Maslow just wanted to lay out a logical map, and, of course, there are always exceptions to how people value their needs or transcend them.
As individuals ascend this hierarchy, the process shifts from fulfilling basic needs to pursuing self-actualization, to where the desire to contribute and make a difference becomes paramount.
This mirrors Covey’s notion that once needs are met, the motivation shifts towards meaningful contributions beyond yourself.
Eminent figures like Richard Branson, known for his innovative ventures and social impact initiatives, embody this transition. Other exemplars include visionaries such as Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, renowned for his commitment to sustainability, and Malala Yousafzai, who advocates for girls’ education and social justice.
The realization that individuals are naturally inclined to seek purpose and contribute to the greater good as they move up Maslow’s hierarchy is profound. I
t underscores that waiting for self-actualization isn’t necessary; adopting this perspective can begin today.
Whether through small acts of kindness or larger initiatives, embracing the drive for social impact can create a ripple effect of positive change in both our lives and the world around us.
This journey toward contributing beyond oneself is not only a future aspiration but an actionable path that can be embarked upon right now.
If You Want to Change the World, Start with Yourself
A great way to change the world is to start with yourself.
Become a more effective, more creative, more capable person.
Another way to put it is to start in your own backyard.
The concept “If You Want to Change the World, Start with Yourself” underscores the transformative power of personal growth as a catalyst for broader positive change.
When you prioritize your essential needs and enhance your personal effectiveness, you become better equipped to contribute to collective efforts while transcending basic motivations.
This evolution leads to a higher level of contribution fueled by a drive for social impact rather than just personal gain.
Begin with addressing your fundamental needs and improving your individual efficiency.
By doing so, you elevate yourself to a position of increased capability, allowing you to participate more effectively in collaborative endeavors.
As these basic needs are met, you transition from being primarily motivated by basic survival to a mindset where your contributions are driven by a desire to make a difference on a broader scale.
In the words of Stephen Covey, this journey involves “expanding your sphere of influence.” You initiate change by starting with what you can directly control—yourself.
As you cultivate personal effectiveness, you create a ripple effect that extends your capacity to influence others and contribute to larger endeavors.
Leading yourself becomes a crucial foundation for becoming a more influential leader. By operating at a high level of personal effectiveness, you create the conditions for sustainable positive change.
This process aligns with Covey’s principle of “being proactive,” where you take charge of your actions and reactions, paving the way for a broader influence.
As you transcend to this elevated level of self-mastery, your contributions stem genuinely from a place of social impact. The motivation shifts from individual gains to the collective well-being, allowing you to foster positive change that reaches beyond immediate personal interests.
Ultimately, embracing this approach empowers you to change the world by first changing yourself—a path that begins with self-improvement and progresses to meaningful contributions that resonate far beyond your own sphere.
Inspirational Quotes Related to Social Entrepreneurs
“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”
— Peter Drucker
“Business and social goals go hand in hand. The only way to succeed is to make sure people know what you stand for.”
— Richard Branson
“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.”
— Bill Drayton
“Social entrepreneurship is about using business to solve the most pressing problems.”
— Jeff Skoll
“The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”
— William James
“The power of social entrepreneurship lies in its disruptive nature. It drives social change and makes the impossible possible.”
— Dr. Judy Monroe
“Social entrepreneurs identify resources where people only see problems.”
— Muhammad Yunus
“The goal of social entrepreneurship is to drive social change and impact in a financially sustainable way.”
— Skoll Foundation
“The new era of social entrepreneurship calls for a more innovative, adaptable, and collaborative approach to solving global challenges.”
— Klaus Schwab
“Social entrepreneurship is about changing the world. It’s about having a passion for making a difference and creating a sustainable impact.”
— Melissa Carter
“The role of a social entrepreneur is to create a spark of change that ignites passion, drives innovation, and empowers communities.”
— Sally Osberg
“Social entrepreneurship empowers individuals to lead with compassion, create positive impact, and drive change from the ground up.”
— Bill Drayton
“Social entrepreneurs are modern-day visionaries, leveraging business principles to create a better world for all.”
— Ashoka U.S.A.
“Social entrepreneurs are pioneers who challenge the status quo, driving transformation and inspiring others to join the movement.”
— David Bornstein
“To succeed in social entrepreneurship, you need to think beyond profits and focus on purpose.”
— Muhammad Yunus
“The power of social entrepreneurship lies in its ability to transform society by tackling systemic issues and creating innovative solutions.”
— Skoll Foundation
“Social entrepreneurs are driven by empathy and a deep desire to improve lives. They measure success in terms of positive societal change.”
— Jacqueline Novogratz
Are You Driven by the Compass of Self Interest or the Compass of the Greater Good?
In the dynamic realm of entrepreneurship, divergent paths unfold, each driven by a unique compass. The traditional entrepreneur journeys guided by the pursuit of self, seeking to carve their mark within the canvas of personal ambitions.
On the other trail, the social entrepreneur sets forth with a compass calibrated for the greater good, navigating the terrain of collective impact.
These narratives intertwine, forging a tapestry of contrasts and convergences, where the hues of self and society merge into a vibrant tableau of transformation.
These journeys intertwine and mesh, painting a vivid picture of distinctions and harmonies, where the individual and the collective blend to create a canvas of transformation and progress.
Where are you on your journey?
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