“Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” – John Maxwell
There are a growing number of opportunities for people who have the discipline to live their full potential, particularly in today’s entrepreneurial landscape. For instance, three young social entrepreneurs whom we support through my company, The Global Good Fund, were featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 in the Social Entrepreneurship category: Sasha Fisher of Spark MicroGrants, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches, Inc., and Karim Abouelnaga of Practice Makes Perfect.
The prestigious Forbes recognition was not simply handed to these ambitious young leaders. On the contrary, Sasha, Reese, and Karim continually work to grow themselves in order to grow their social enterprises. They are experts at seeking support and positioning themselves in ways that highlight their incredible work amidst a world inundated with information.
As a young entrepreneur, the way you position yourself matters. Personal positioning is crucial to getting recognition for your enterprise. People buy into you before they buy into your vision.
Below are five key steps you can take as a young leader to position yourself for success. Setting yourself up for success will lead to support through fellowships, awards, funding, grants and more.
Demonstrate Your Potential
Young leaders are sometimes concerned about promoting themselves and their causes because they believe they don’t have enough professional experience to be taken seriously. Don’t get caught up in these thoughts or let anyone tell you that experience is the end-all-be-all. Instead, use every opportunity to demonstrate your potential.
For example, help other people add value to their work. This process allows other people to understand your strengths as a young entrepreneur as well as your potential for what you are capable of achieving. By making other people look good, you highlight the work that you have accomplished thus far as well as your most distinguishing credentials. People invest in potential, especially when it’s delivered humbly.
Highlight That You’re at a Critical Growth Point
People and organizations that invest in you want to know that their resources are being effectively leveraged to build the future of your enterprise, starting with you. Articulate key growth opportunities by highlighting your personal abilities to develop and your plan for growth. That means clearly communicating a detailed plan for how you intend to grow yourself and your organization.
Show How You Are Driving Change in Your Industry
Now that you have others buying into you, it’s time to get them to buy into your work and your company’s vision. Assemble concrete examples and quantifiable figures on the impact you have already made in your space. Identify tangible goals on the impact your company plans to make in the future.
Be Fully Committed to Your Work
When building the support network for your company, remember that it’s a give-and-take situation. When applying for fellowships, funding and grants, understand that the entity making the investment wants to witness that you are truly invested. Make it easy for them by demonstrating why their investment is a solid one. For instance, illustrate how you’ve eliminated distractions by choosing to focus fully on your work; enable your audience to witness your passion and purpose – inspired people are inspiring people.
Be Humble and Coachable
Whether you are applying for an award, fellowship, funding, etc., you have to be in a position to both receive and accept feedback. No matter where you are in your career (or in your business), demonstrate the curiosity to learn and grow. That means leveraging accolades in ways that exemplify humility. You don’t need to broadcast your “wins” every time you interact with another person. Let them find out on their own or allow someone else to introduce you who will share your accolades on your behalf so you don’t have to lead with that topic.
Are you looking to grow your professional skills and your company? I’ve come across some amazing resources while leading The Global Good Fund. If you’re a social entrepreneur, check out these excellent opportunities: Amani Institute, Ashoka, Atlas Corps, Case Foundation, Cordes Fellowship, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Echoing Green, Endeavor, Halcyon Incubator, ProInspire, Segal Family Foundation, and Village Capital.