Game-Changing Entrepreneurs: Beyond “Doing the Right Thing and Doing Good”

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All entrepreneurs spark a better future — their own and sometimes all of ours. The ideas they start with offer opportunities to develop new potential and to do it in their own ways. But not all entrepreneurial intentions or paths are the same; nor do they bring about the same degree of meaningful change.

There are at least two different paths that are intended to serve more than just an individual founder or leader. Some entrepreneurs see their businesses as the means to create higher orders of possibility for the work of business, itself. The path they take most often is that of the role-model entrepreneur, providing exemplars for new ways to do business that break from the traditional model.

For example, a business led by a role-model entrepreneur may demonstrate a radically new way to treat a workforce or it may show how it’s possible to better account for Earth resources in terms or impact or ways for communities where facilities and operations exist to take their impacts into consideration. New products or services are the likeliest, successful results of this kind of entrepreneurship.

Such endeavors are created from the heartfelt belief that they are the right way to do things. Some leaders are willing to stand up for the new way, speaking and writing about it, but leaving it to others to consider what they will do with the example offered. For this reason, the role-model approach may be too slow and too late to create the kinds of change that are urgently needed now. More must be done.

The second path is the way of the game-changer entrepreneur, whose intention is to go beyond becoming a role model and building a business with integrity simply because this is the better way. Although this is indeed a worthy effort, for those entrepreneurs who see even further into the future, becoming role models and trusting others to follow is not enough to bring about the changes we need to foster now.

The game changer’s path is to build and grow a business with the intention to make fundamental changes beyond the business, itself, and the values embedded in its way of operating. The game-changer understands that business can be a way to intervene or become a catalyst for fundamental changes in the patterns and practices of government, industry (its own and sometimes others), societal norms, cultural agreements, and many other aspects of the ways in which nations operate for the wellbeing of all.

The game changer is a new, big-promise entrepreneur, The Responsible Entrepreneur, a new breed who make promises, often in very public forums, to make things work better for all. In two recent articles, I introduced four archetypes or approaches to take entrepreneurs’ good intentions and develop from them the game-changer path. The first of these is published at the Stanford Social Innovation Review. The second — “How Big is Your Promise?” — is at CSRwire. My book, The Responsible Entrepreneur: Four Game-Changing Archetypes, was released in 2013.

Originally published at carolsanford.com on November 26, 2012.

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