The hardest part in being an impact entrepreneur, is not business model, nor money

04/12/2016 08:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

By: Solene Pignet

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I have been a strategy consultant for impact entrepreneurs and changemakers since 2014. I have consulted with over 100 value-driven individuals from 32 different countries (thanks to the magic of Internet!) and I noticed one common denominator that makes almost everyone struggle.

That is not about business modelling, about making money, or even about scale. It is not about unfriendly regulations, unready market or uncaring investors.

This common challenge is faced at every step in the journey:
  • Early on, while trying to figure out THE idea to escape from an unfulfilling career to become a value-driven entrepreneur,
  • At the beginning, while getting ready to launch (and making sure everything is 100% perfect before anyone sees it),
  • Later on, while struggling to find customers, and reach financial sustainability.

The most common challenge is...
... drum roll...
... mindset !

Because you see, becoming an entrepreneur - and furthermore an alternative, impact-ambitious one - requires a person to think out-side-box, and go (way) beyond our comfort zone. This means frequent confidence up-and-downs, feeling overwhelmed, and huge hesitations to take action.

It also means, unlearning most of what we are taught in school. Because let's face it, school has been designed to provide enough well-behaving intelligent employees for one's country's companies. Not to help individuals find their true calling, and become alternative thinkers and creators!

When I launched Creators for Good, my idea was to help aspiring social entrepreneurs design their business model, as well as support existing positive initiatives to reach financial sustainability.

This is still essentially what I do, but there is a much broader, more psychologic dimension to that.

  • When I consult with an individual who wants to quit his job to do something meaningful with his life, we cannot just concentrate on business modelling: we explore why he made the choices he did in his career, we broaden his perspective, identify what he is actually good at, and who he sincerely wants to help. Once this is clear, the business model comes so easily!
  • When helping individuals who have a potentially impactful idea and want to get started efficiently, we don't only set up a website or grow a social media community. We have to work on the fear of failing, the imposter syndrome, as well as with how to deal with friends (kindly) asking "how are you going to make a living out of this? What if it fails?"!
  • For those struggling to reach break-even, it is once again not only about the product itself or having a good sales speech. It is mostly about our relationship with money, and being comfortable about charging a fee in exchange for our product or service.

To be honest, I understand this first hand because I have struggled with that too! I launched Creators for Good at 26 years old (=imposter syndrome), with only one year of savings (=fear of failing) and no local network as a French expat in Turkey.

I found a way around my material challenges by launching my own Internet-based consulting agency, but the hard part was definitely to believe I could make it happen and take action consistently. Fight against my perfectionist syndrome to launch before I felt ready. And fight against my fear to be less useful by charging a fee for the help I provide, and embrace the with-profit-for-sustainable-impact mindset.

In the end, I reached break-even in only 7,5 months. I now make a decent living while helping awesome individuals worldwide create the change they want to see in the world. I believe that if I could make it happen for myself, everyone can (and should!).

My advice?
  • Forget about perfection, your beneficiaries are waiting for your help and don't need it to be 100% perfect!
  • Don't reinvent the wheel. Look around, ask those who inspire you "how they did it", and only listen to the advices of entrepreneurs a few steps ahead of you.
  • Last but not least: do all you can to build a life that makes you happy! That's the biggest favor you can do to you and your future impact.

Pioneers for Change is a seed-bed for innovative thought. An activator of personal potential. A catalyst for collective energy. A community to drive social change.

Our annual, international Fellowship is open to anyone aged 28 - 108 years old. We gather change-makers -- a business person, a community person, an investor, a thinker or doer -- who are willing to harness their talents, energy and resources as a force for good. Pioneers for Change is an initiative of Adessy Associates.

Adessy Associates believes a better world is possible, and inspires and equips organisations and individuals to make positive change happen and contribute to a sustainable future. We focus on benefit for people, planet and profit and our bespoke services harness sustainability, innovation, consciousness and purpose. We are proudly B Corp certified.

About Solène Pignet
Solène is a globetrotter, committed to sustainable development and passionate about alternative entrepreneurship. She founded Creators for Good in 2014.

Creators for Good offers 1-to1 accelerator programs, to help individuals find and validate their impactful and sustainable idea, launch their own alternative business efficiently, as well as reach break-even rapidly.