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Ideas on Leadership
August 15, 2018 | Colleen Howe

Why Social Entrepreneurs Should Embrace Vulnerabilities

Launching a successful social enterprise requires dedication, passion, resilience, and an ability to attract resources—among many other assets. However, to emerge from the startup space, entrepreneurs also need a solid support system of advisors, thought partners, mentors, funding, and more. Asking for help is difficult and often counterintuitive—especially for startup founders.

As leaders launching and growing organizations, entrepreneurs are often expected to be "on," projecting success and security at all times. Social entrepreneurs also face the unique challenge of having to prove not only the financial viability of their enterprise but also the scalability of social impact. When entrepreneurs feel the need to prove themselves, especially in the early stages when aid is most greatly needed, it can lead to an adverse cycle of needing assistance but not knowing how to seek help.

For that reason, it’s critical for all entrepreneurs to welcome and embrace vulnerability. Although leaders are often coached to be strong and have everything figured out, the best way to receive targeted support is to be forthcoming with the issues that are presenting barriers. Without vulnerability, growth and improvement are difficult to achieve.

Echoing Green knows that a deeply supportive community may be the most crucial ingredient to the life of a social change leader. A major reason for the deep connections among the Echoing Green community is because vulnerability resonates with so many of its members. Shared fears, concerns, failures, and doubts reminds these leaders that they are not alone and that there is a path through obstacles. The challenges leaders inevitably face do not define their worth—in fact, using these experiences to guide their personal and professional growth can have an even greater impact over the long haul. Embracing this growth alongside ones peers creates opportunities to be supportive, share lessons learned, and offer new perspectives on old challenges.

The power of shared vulnerability was evident when the 2018 Fellows gathered for the first time at their New Fellows Retreat. Through their short time spent in this community, they discovered the impact that community, tailored resources, and a dedicated support system has on emerging social entrepreneurs. Below are three reasons to embrace vulnerability in the entrepreneurship space.

1. Peer mentors can be an entrepreneur's best champions.
“It’s one thing to say you have an issue, but it’s another thing to say you have an issue, and someone can help you with a solution. This is a new family that's adding value to what I've already been doing.” - Brittany Young, founder of B-360
2. Dedicated space to ask for help can lead to quicker results.
“I really enjoy the open space, feeling comfortable to talk about anything: failures, insecurities, uncertainties. It gives me a lot of clarity. It gives me a lot of confidence to move on to the next steps.” –Jeanny Yao, BioCellection
3. Sharing experiences opens doors to sharing solutions. 
"This is a tremendous group of individuals who are inspiring me, and educating me, and will lead to a lifetime of friendship and collaboration moving forward.” –Jeffrey Neal, Loop Closing
 
2018 Echoing Green Fellows at their New Fellows Retreat.