Who’s your business idol? In entrepreneurship circles, it’s natural to look up to figures like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Richard Branson, three innovators who continually inspire people to dream bigger.
A relentless perfectionist, Jobs forever changed our relationship with computers, putting them literally in the palm of our hands. At PayPal, Musk changed the way we think about online payments. Now, he’s creating the future of automobiles and reigniting our nation’s passion for space exploration.
And Branson, a self-made billionaire who dropped out of high school, has built an entire corporate empire by following his passion for “making business fun.” While there’s no denying these three leaders are certainly role models, others may receive less media attention but are inspiring nonetheless. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that some of the most inspiring aren’t in the corporate world at all: They’re leading successful nonprofits.
They’re just like us.
Nonprofit leaders have a natural entrepreneurial mindset. They have to, because like startup founders, nonprofit leaders aim to solve a problem by providing goods or services.
In the process, they use creative problem-solving and marketing to raise public awareness and financial support for their vision, just the way entrepreneurs strive to secure financing and build public excitement for their product launches. Many nonprofit leaders also supervise a passionate, paid staff while recruiting and training a robust volunteer force. Moreover, these leaders must be creative, open-minded, flexible and nimble — just like, you guessed it, entrepreneurs.
So, there’s nothing wrong with looking up to entrepreneur giants like Jobs, Musk, and Branson. But you may be surprised just how much you can learn from these three nonprofit leaders: