Responsibility is one’s ability to respond in a given situation or with another person. And our responses are based on the quality of information we possess with respect to products and people, and are thus determined by what we know. In truth, therefore, a responsible entrepreneur is not someone who does extensive CSR activities. A truly responsible entrepreneur is an individual who has assessed their ability to recognise an existing problem and found a viable solution to make the quality of life in general a little better for humanity.
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A responsible entrepreneur is distinguishable from the clout by the following traits:
An internal desire to be responsible
Accidents happen. Mistakes happen. And there’s always someone to be blamed for it. A responsible entrepreneur is not some goody-two-shoes who chooses to take the blame upon himself or herself even when the fault is someone else. At the same time, neither do they shy away from pointing the finger at themselves. Responsible entrepreneurs lead by example, and they know that their present actions have the potential to influence their team, especially the ones starting out, and hence take their responsibility seriously.
Responsible leaders are research-backed individuals. They are driven by both intuition and intellect, and thus take care in taking every decision concerning their startup – right from hiring the perfect employee to knowing their customers. Both things require research, and not just market surveys, numbers, and analysis but a personal interest in those areas. An entrepreneur is dishonest first to himself when he creates a product which he won’t use himself. Truth, like air, is intangible. But its presence or absence can be felt by everyone. A responsible entrepreneur’s sense of ownership is thus driven by their love for keeping things real and honest.
Time is a non-refundable resource. Once spent, it can never come back. A responsible entrepreneur knows that time is actually life and how he or she spends every day is how they will spend their whole life. In order to make the most of time, they hone skills like delegation, trust, and self-knowledge. This attracts order in their lives and helps them stay in control and balance.
The ability to be part of a whole
According to Carol Sanford, author of the much acclaimed book The Responsible Entrepreneur, “This is an extremely practical capability. It means we can set aims for changing ‘ourselves’ and whole systems. We can separate ‘one part of us out’ to watch as ‘we’ start to take action. We are not only self-aware but self-directed, self-correcting, and self-managing. As a result we are able to also work for the good of the whole, not just ourselves.”
Most businessmen are reluctant of acknowledging ‘we’ and ‘us’ in their responses and conversations. They do so because they are insecure and operate out of fear – fear of not being recognised, fear of becoming obsolete, fear of being replaced. A responsible entrepreneur harbours no such fear. They are driven by curiosity and a willingness to learn with time.
In the same article, Carol emphasises the entrepreneur’s need to be purposeful: “This means to move beyond our own ego and connection to a personal purpose. Purpose exists in systems and is interactive. So to be purposeful is to be in service of a purpose greater than just ourselves. We know we have a critical and reciprocally maintaining role to play for a purpose to be achieved.”
The why of things is the most important question anybody can ask themselves. This is the only question that can set one on a quest for important answers. A responsible entrepreneur is driven by the right questions in his or her search for the right solution. An entrepreneur’s success can be predicted based on their response to the question – why you want to be an entrepreneur.
Every time you are not responsible, you are irresponsible. There are no two ways about it. When things go wrong, you can either trace the blame to someone else, accuse the market or you can start over with honesty, care, knowledge and true grit. As always, your action will be your choice alone.