Tag Archives: Social Entrepreneur

The five types of student entrepreneur

After working with over 20,000 students in the last ten years, I have started to stereotype those coming through into five simple student entrepreneur categories. There is no real theory and a great amount of research here, but I just wanted to share my thoughts and observations on these student entrepreneurs.


This group of people want to mega rich, famous and of course a owner of a super big business. They just want it all! Yet hard work, planning and dedication to entrepreneurship is not at the core of their motivations. They sometimes do start businesses, normally with co-founders who do all the work, while they talk about their business, the people they know and the mega plans they have.

Pros : Great talker who other may believe
Cons : Lacks hard work and dedication


Staying the same is not an option, so these people think of distributive technology, business models and taking all the biggest businesses, traditional methods and societies. They know that they will succeed as its only there ability to change the world that will save it.

Pros : Out of the box thinking
Cons : Others don’t take them seriously, just too radical

Social Entrepreneur

This group not only want to start a business but one that helps others. They have great amounts of passion, dedication and drive to see this business idea into a fully developed business. These people understand the need to develop others, work in teams and share the value of their business with as many people as possible.

Pros : A Team player
Cons : Takes too long as brings too many people with them


The richest people are Geeks, so why not start the the next Microsoft, Apple or Facebook. These people can make technology work for them and create small dynamic businesses which engage users throughout the world in their dream creation.

Pros : Easy to start boot strapped business
Cons : Lacks people skills to engage others


This group just get on with it, never thinking for one moment they can’t. What they lack in skills, knowledge and network, they balance with the shear determination and brut force. They are the bull in the china shop style of entrepreneurship.

Pros : Self belief and determination to make it a success
Cons : Lacks style and skills which makes others believe

As with all people and businesses it about having the team, a set of skills and maybe every business should have a mix of these.


So which type of student entrepreneur are you?

Finding a Social Entrepreneur

The development of social enterprise over the last few years has lead to a wider appeal and also an increase in students looking at enterprise as a career option. These students are looking at the problems within their society and developing innovative solutions to the problems of today. This will be one of the core legacies of this recession as the young have seen how corporate greed can and does lead to a range of social and ethical issues.

We can not rely on bankers to mess up the economy so we can create greater social entrepreneurs.

So what are the core characteristics and triggers for social enterprise and entrepreneurs ?

Social enterprise is not new, so there is much evidence into its impact and development.  (Zahra et al). So reviewing some of the literature we essential have three types of social entrepreneur.

  1. Social Bricoleur : who is focused on small scale local social needs
  2. Social Constructionist : who exploits opportunities and market failures in order to introduce reforms in “broader” social system
  3. Social Engineer : who recognizes systemic failures and addresses them by introducing revolutionary change

Once we understand these three types, the development of the civic, social system and revolutionary change means we can identify a number of personal characteristics or attributes which the social entrepreneurs should hold, (Brooks pp12)

  • Innovativeness
  • Achievement Orientation
  • Independence
  • Sense of control over destiny
  • Low risk-aversion
  • Tolerance for ambiguity
  • Community awareness and social concerns

The first six are standard entrepreneurial attributes which you can find in the majority of literature and also entrepreneur tests, with the the seven being the community  aspect which introduces the social aspect of the entrepreneur.

These characteristics allow a level of entrepreneurship to exists when triggered. These trigger points are important (e.g. Banking Crisis). There are five entrepreneur trigger points which (Brooks, pp9).

  • Environment
  • Resources
  • Perturbation / Displacement
  • Personal Traits
  • Preparation

The majority of universities now have greater support for social enterprise, through partnerships with UnLtd and charitable organizations. These help create the right environment and provide the much needed resources to develop the idea. The education preparation for social entrepreneurship has been embedded into our education system for many years. Within the HE sector, we can see great examples from RAG, ENACTUS to formal Volunteering.

The social entrepreneur provides an opportunity to work with a real local issue and develop an eco system which ensures  real role models and local engagement for a wider set of students throughout their degrees. This is important in developing and maintaining our local economies.

By understanding the trigger points for social enterprise, we can help develop the skills and personal characteristics within our education system for successful social entrepreneurs.