David Walker thinks about the role of entrepreneurs now. He says that social entrepreneurs are real Change Makers for the ‘new normal’. They are all about sustainable change, but need to worry about their own personal resilience too.

sustainable change from entrepreneurs as Change Makers

Entrepreneurs are Change Makers.

Is this a bold statement? Probably the truth is that I can safely say that many modern entrepreneurs are focused on leading and delivering change as much as they are trying to be the next billionaire.

These social entrepreneurs are nothing new. Think about Florence Nightingale setting up the first nursing school, or the founders of building societies and similar mutual organisations that ‘crowdfunded’ to support members in buying their own homes or borrowing small amounts of money to improve their lives. Whilst entrepreneurs have cared about social impact for years, the rise of entrepreneurs as Change Makers has accelerated in recent years, particularly with the increasing focus on the triple bottom line of ‘People, Planet and Profit’ and delivering sustainable change.

Many large organisations have preached variants of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) over the last 50 years or so, or had CSR imposed upon them. For some this is seen as something they are required to do, rather than something they strategically and socially must do. However, for many entrepreneurs CSR-type activities are a large part of their Raison d’être.

Supporting sustainable change

This growth in social entrepreneurs has been supported by organisations such as Ashoka which has focused on entrepreneurs as a force for good since the 1980s, and the global BCorp movement which developed in the 2000’s focussing on helping companies balance profit and Purpose and manage their social and environmental impact, verified through a rigorous certification.

Entrepreneurs have been aided in developing their entrepreneurial activities by the growth of a support ecosystem. A good example is Entnest which uses the internet and what they describe as Social Media 2.0 to bring together (online and offline) entrepreneurs, investors, support organisations from around the world, in a trusted and purpose-driven environment. Needless to say (for many readers) The Change Maker Group fits squarely into this support ecosystem, with our Purpose being To develop Change Makers everywhere, so they can change their world. We back this up with our collaborative non-status operating model and investing 100% of our profits in delivering our Purpose by inspiring, developing, and engaging Change Makers in all settings through The Change Makers Network. Modern entrepreneurs as Change Makers want to create sustainable change, and our Purpose is totally-focused on the same.

In the post-pandemic world, it is likely that entrepreneurs as Change Makers will come to the fore. There is evidence to support this assertion;

  • Large-corporate business models have not all prevailed, with a rise in companies failing or going into Administration.
  • Operating models have been forced to change – the massive increase in employees working from home greatly impacts the perceived trust paradigm for instance;
  • Social and environmental interest has developed, with people being at home more, personally impacting the environment less, supporting their communities more, taking on DIY jobs and developing their hobbies;
  • The necessity to change the way we think about business operations in the ‘new normal’ is giving rise to new opportunities and fresh thinking – the growing app-based online ordering in pubs and restaurants is a recent example;
  • The growth of businesses, that were already delivering services, but that have become massively important during the pandemic – Zoom videoconferencing is a global example, where in Q2 2020 turnover was 355% larger than Q2 2019 ;
  • The increased recognition of the important work that key workers do for us all – so many businesses have provided support for key workers through free services and discounts, and similarly to public services;
  • People in lockdown have developed their ‘side hustles’ – micro-businesses supplying services operated whilst people are furloughed or finding they have more available time when working from home.

Taken together these business and cultural changes are giving rise to an entrepreneurial spirit that may have been latent, and a change in social perspective. My expectation is that, given adequate support and guidance, entrepreneurs will be primary game-changers delivering change for us all. This is also interesting in the sense of how these entrepreneurs are often putting Purpose ahead of profit, and my view is that we will continue to see the rise of ‘not-for-profits’ or ‘Profit for Purpose’ businesses. Of course, these types of businesses start to get into a range of existential difficulties once they need capital and investors want equity (and hence shareholder returns), but no-one ever said that being a Change Maker is easy!

Entrepreneurs are Change Makers. They will need help and support to achieve their goals, including personal resilience support, but when they are successful we all benefit. At The Change Maker Group we will continue to support the Change Makers, so they can change their world.

Contact David at [email protected]

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