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“Being entrepreneurial is essentially about thinking and doing something that we have not done before in order to achieve a desirable goal or outcome.” Donna M. De Carolis

Doing something that has never been done before can be risky, but it can also be incredibly beneficial and rewarding. That is something all successful entrepreneurs understand. The entrepreneurial mindset is about disruption. It’s about shaking things up and not being content with the same old ways of doing business.

A recent Harvard Business Review article looked at a new breed of experts embracing the entrepreneurial mindset to rethink many of the world’s biggest systems—from energy to food to finance. Like those systems, the nonprofit landscape could use some innovation and reinvention. That’s why nonprofit leaders should embrace the entrepreneurial mindset.

Three Powerful Characteristics of Entrepreneurial Leaders

Here are three important traits successful entrepreneurs share:

1. They blaze trails through complex challenges.

Bulk and complexity are the two most common reasons change gets stopped in its tracks. The entrepreneurial mindset is about not being intimidated by these factors. It is about focusing on the larger goal, turning debate into action, and creating safe spaces to try new things.

2. They strive to take big leaps forward.

Entrepreneurial leaders are not satisfied with small, steady progress. They want to completely change the game, create new models, and open people’s eyes to a better way. They do not just want to rewrite the book; they want to write an entirely new book.

3. They look for ways to challenge the status quo.

Change should not be made for change’s sake. Change should happen because you care enough to make a difference. Entrepreneurial leaders are never satisfied with the way things are. They know there is always a better way. Discovering that better way means thinking beyond the current system.

Are You Ready to Lead Your Nonprofit into the Future?

It is important for nonprofit leaders to embrace the entrepreneurial mindset, because what works today will not necessarily work tomorrow. Nonprofits need to be constantly breaking new ground to inspire donors and make a greater impact.

The next time you are faced with a stagnant program or challenges you can’t seem to solve, ask your team:

  • How can we solve this problem in a different way?
  • How can we get a fresh perspective?
  • What would we do if we were starting from scratch tomorrow with no commitments or limitations?

These are the kinds of questions that lead to breakthrough solutions.

What are some ways you can bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the way you lead your organization?