Written By: Sandra Odendahl, Senior Director of Social Innovation at RBC

What if the passion and enthusiasm of entrepreneurs could be harnessed to address societal issues, such as climate change, homelessness and unemployment? A rising wave of “social entrepreneurs” is starting to do just that by designing their for-profit businesses around making positive contributions to the communities that they serve.

We often think that social businesses have to sacrifice profit and growth for the greater good. But our research found that many social entrepreneurs are building high growth businesses that deliver social and environmental returns.

Since launching the RBC Social Finance Initiative in 2012, we’ve researched, collaborated with and invested in many social entrepreneurs. In that time, we’ve discovered five key traits that successful social entrepreneurs often have in common.

  1. They don’t ignore the fundamentals. Social businesses have proven that they can be successful financially while chasing social and environmental goals. By following best-practices in marketing, human resources, operations and finance, social entrepreneurs position themselves to achieve their objectives.
  2. They use passion to fuel success. Passion is the common denominator among successful entrepreneurs. And, for this group, passion is often more intense because they are pursing deep-rooted personal goals. Their passion drives their position in the market and often improves their chances of success.
  3. They get creative to conquer obstacles. With everything from strategy to financing, social entrepreneurs have to be creative. They must innovate to overcome financial hurdles and apply creative marketing to target customers with their social products and services.
  4. They leverage their double or triple bottom line. Social entrepreneurs are always thinking in terms of social, environmental and financial results. They promote their social or environmental goals to recruit and retain the best people to work for them, attract customers and generate attention in the marketplace.
  5. They build a team of trusted advisers. Successful social entrepreneurs see external advisers as important to their business. They look to their bank or financial institution to be value-added advisers, and expect them to go beyond financial products and services to guide and support their journey.

Social businesses will continue to grow and flourish in Canada as we look for new ways to solve the most pressing social and environmental challenges. RBC’s Social Finance Initiative is designed to ignite the growth of social finance in Canada through supporting and nurturing businesses that deliberately seek to make positive contributions to their community. To learn more about RBC’s Social Finance Initiative, click here.

RBC proudly supports the 2016 Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit hosted by Futurpreneur Canada that’s happening in Toronto this May. Their support is helping send a delegation of social entrepreneurs from across the country for two-days of networking and professional development opportunities. You can join RBC and Futurpreneur Canada at the Action Entrepreneurship Canadian Summit by registering here.