3 Nonprofit Founders Who Are Inspiring Entrepreneurs

(Entrepreneur.com, 9.29.17)

by Brian Hughes

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.

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.

Entrepreneurship lesson: Opportunity is everywhere — you just need to think outside the box. In founding Random Acts of Flowers, Jay turned “lemons into lemonade” by finding a creative way to repurpose floral arrangements, bringing joy and vital emotional support to patients when they need it most.