Joe Johnson, Ph.D.
Entrepreneur. Investor. Startup Expert.

Social entrepreneurs represent an exceedingly diverse cross-section of businessmen, both in the ways that they conduct business and in the goals that they’re seeking to accomplish with their enterprises. They also differ both in the various means that they employ to enhance social wealth and the strategies that they utilize to facilitate those means. Social entrepreneurs work exceptionally hard to produce lasting solutions that will effect permanent change in the lives of the people they hope to impact. These brief capsule summaries describe four of the most common types of social entrepreneurs:

The Community Social Entrepreneur

This sort of social entrepreneur seeks to create ventures meant to serve the social needs of a community within a relatively narrow geographical area. These enterprises are generally structured around the active participation of people living within the served community.

This sort of entrepreneur has an advantage in that his ventures become ever more sustainable over time, as there are vested interests for all parties. One sometimes significant associated disadvantage is that decision-making may be a slower process due to the larger numbers of people involved.

The Non-Profit Social Entrepreneur

These social entrepreneurs are more focused on social wealth than material wealth. Consequently, any profits made are reinvested into the business to facilitate the further expansion of services offered. For this sort of social entrepreneur, the social goal(s) are always more important than mere profit.

While the social entrepreneur is frequently better able to meet his social goals due to the more ready availability of funds, the very motivation to generate those monies may be correspondingly lower.

The Transformational Social Entrepreneur

Here, the focus extends to the creation of an enterprise able to meet those social needs not adequately being met by governments and other businesses. These businesses occasionally evolve into institutions and the involved social entrepreneur must have the skills and capacity to administer a large team.

One advantage of being a transformational social entrepreneur is that it can be easier to recruit excellent volunteers. A not insignificant disadvantage is that it can be far more challenging to comply with an ever-larger web of interrelated rules, regulations, and politics.

The Global Social Entrepreneur

The global social entrepreneur works toward complete transformation of a social system in order to meet major social needs and to change the very fabric of society worldwide. The scope of the global social entrepreneur is international and his aim is to create an enterprise that will stand the test of time.

If he’s successful, the net advantage will be that neglected or inadequately-addressed social needs are met. The disadvantage is that there will be far more scrutiny on the business and how it conducts its affairs. If the enterprise fails to win the necessary support of the global community, all of its efforts will be for naught.


All social entrepreneurs share something in common: the fundamental drive to resolve a social issue. For a social entrepreneur, generating profits is not the ultimate goal, as they’re only successful if they’ve been able to solve the specific problem toward which they’ve dedicated themselves. Committment to this cause requires a broad scope of understanding, especially with regard to the political, social, cultural, and economic aspects of a wide range of social problems.

Social entrepreneurs must be far more resourceful than ordinary businessmen, both because they’re held to a higher standard by society and because the consequences of failure affect many more people.

About the Author

Dr. Joe Johnson is an entrepreneur, investor, and startup expert. He is the founder and principal of GoodField Investments and the GoodField Foundation (

Joe has a Ph.D. in Entrepreneurial Leadership and an MBA. He is the author of the upcoming book on The Science of Why Most Entrepreneurs Fail and Some Succeed.

Most importantly, he is the incredibly blessed husband of one amazing wife and father of six wonderful children. He resides in Bradenton, Florida. For more information on Dr. Johnson and his work, go to