If you are like me, you have a preconceived image of what an entrepreneur is. Let’s test this theory. Ready? O.K. Make a short mental list of 5 to 10 entrepreneurs that you know, whether personal acquaintances or public figures. Now, here comes the magic…..I bet that list does not include a nonprofit/social entrepreneur. Amirite?
Of course I am. No one thinks about a nonprofit venture when it comes to entrepreneurialism. Why not? Because there is no money to be had? Because there is no IPO payoff to declare a winner? Because there is no rags to riches (or geek to geek god) story line? Yes! To all of these! Its because there is no glamour! Our nonprofits are supposed to be quiet helpers of mankind that make a difference one soul at a time. How can we view their founders any other way? Any young nonprofit founder is politely applauded and then sent away.
Where is our nonprofit version of Zuckerburg, Dorsey, Musk, and Thiel?
Maybe this is what is wrong with the nonprofit sector. Maybe this is why there has been no big shake up since Red Cross endorsed texting your donation to the latest hurricane victims. Look at the Salvation Army still ringing their pathetic bells in front of the grocery store. Sorry! But nobody carries cash anymore! How hard is it to carry a card swiper that takes $1 -$3-$5 dollar amounts with a single swipe! This action would quadruple their charitable haul. But do they do it? No! I personally brought the idea to their people in Reno and was brushed off.
We need the entrepreneurial ethos to come to the nonprofit sector. We need them to shake things up, innovate, and disrupt. We need our rock star co-founders and we need to laud them.
Think you are an idea person? Think you come up with start up after start up? Try putting your skills to work in the nonprofit sector and share a few ideas here.
You are sure your idea is the next killer app. You have thought it through and the few key people you share it with all agree that the idea has true merit. And then……you get stuck. What do you do next?
This has happened to everyone I know. And most never solve their problem or get past this hurdle. Let’s think about this cynically. You have your favorite candy bar in sight but you can not reach it. There are people around you that can help you but you will have to share with them. Do you do it? Isn’t half a candy bar better than none? Of course! But here is some good news: Most people just want to help for the sake of helping. They have been helped themselves and want to pay it forward. Their reward stems from being the one asked for help. This fact makes them feel like an expert at the top of their field and usually this is enough.
There are further reasons to sharing your dilemma. Sometimes just saying the problem aloud can either force you to think it through or give you a sounding board in the other person. There have been many times that I have been in the middle of explaining my problem and the answer thrusts forward in mid-sentence.
Perhaps the greatest reason to sharing your problem (and hence your idea) is the collaboration. This very situation happened to me. I selfishly guarded a secret business plan until I realized that, like the candy bar, up until that point I had not done anything with it. The very first person that I shared it with became my business partner and he enlarged the breadth and depth of the business plan more than I could ever have done on my own.
So how do we become so possessive and secretive? We fear that everyone is going to steal our plan. We need to trust in our fellow entrepreneurs……..they would far more like to help you than to steal from you. You’ve got nothing else to lose and everything to gain. Share your problems and reap the rewards!
Got a problem? Give us a try and see what we can come up with together.