7 tips on how to become a successful impact entrepreneur

Impact driven entrepreneurship is all about doing something good at the core of your business, alongside maintaining your financial revenue. The worldwide growing demand for better and sustainable solutions creates great potential for impact entrepreneurs to develop successful businesses. But how do you become a successful impact entrepreneur?

We created this list based on our collection of tips from experienced entrepreneurs, coaches and senior managers active in the field of impact entrepreneurship. 

1. Believe in your product, work hard and pay attention to detail

It almost goes without saying that you need to work hard to achieve your goals. You should always try to do the best you can and pay attention to detail. Be confident in what you have created, and don’t be too shy when you approach possible partners or customers. 

”Start selling your product as early as possible and be confident in the fact that you might very likely actually be able to create a better product than the big players in the field. Always try to do the best you can. Pay attention to detail.”
Oliver Marchand, CEO & Co-Founder at Carbon Delta, an MSCI company

2. Make use of available support early on

Although more could be done, there are still some great programs out there to support impact entrepreneurs developing their businesses. Primarily in the early stage, but increasingly also in the growth and scaling phase. If you cannot find something suitable in your region, you might consider it a good investment to look for support in other places too. 

”Make use of some of the brilliant incubator and accelerator programs available in most places. Try to get accepted to the program that is the best fit for you, even if it may not be right at your doorstep. Finally, do it early in your startup career rather than later.” 

Sabine Kaiser, Venture Partner D/A/CH at NLC

3. Don’t be afraid to fail

As much as we want you to believe in your mission, service or product, you should not be afraid to fail. If something does not work, find another way. Keep trying.

”Failure is an essential part of the entrepreneurship process, you will learn from your mistakes and may have to make both small adjustments or major changes along the way.”

Prof. Mariana Christen Jakob, Founder & Managing Partner at SEIF

4. Manage your impact

Impact management is all about proving and improving your targeted impact and to show your impact investors how you are contributing to reach the SDG’s. Managing your impact also helps you avoid mission drift, i.e. going off course because you don’t really know what you’re aiming for. It is essential for strategic decision making​, efficiency, accountability, transparency, communication and risk management.

”In the end, it comes down to finding a way to manage impact that supports your business. You are doing it for your own success, it should not be a burden conducted just for the sake of it.”
Sarah Linder, Impact Management expert at SEIF

5. Share your story and inspire others

Storytelling can be a very powerful tool when starting out, you want to start a movement and convince people about your idea. It is about capturing the attention of others with what you have to say, to succeed it needs to be clear what you aim to achieve (see nr. 4).

”Be yourself and share your personal story! Stories are powerful, make us human, and allow us to connect – and that is what matters. If investors believe in you, they are more likely to support you.” 

Mona Mijthab, Founder at Mosan

 

”As long as you are willing to accept failure, learn while on the move, and inspire others with your energy and commitment to drive impactful change – you are on your right path to success.” 

Nir Shimony, Co-Founder & CEO at TechForGood

6. Carefully choose investors and board members

What motivates potential investors to invest and get involved?​ Are they finance first or impact first?​ Investors who will be supportive, patient and share your values will likely be more valuable to you in comparison to someone who is more focused on financial return, looking for immediate success or quick returns. 

”Having the right investors on board is almost as important (if not more) than the money they bring to the business.” 

Prof. Mariana Christen Jakob, Founder & Managing Partner at SEIF

7. Your impact value as a competitive advantage

You are doing well by doing good. As an impact driven entrepreneur, you social or environmental impact is also your competitive advantage. It should be seen as an opportunity and not a challenge. Make sure to portray it this way both to customers, investors and other relevant stakeholders. 

“When you have founders passionate about solving something because they really want to solve the problem, not only because they want to make money, you get more motivated founders who work harder. In return, you get better companies.” 

Haakon Brunell, Managing Partner & CEO at Katapult Accelerator