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Photo by Prixel Creative

Gandhi is one of the best examples of a social entrepreneur, believe it or not. While most people know him for his community organizing work, he built his reputation on social enterprise, not charity. As a lawyer, he made a career out of representing disenfranchised clients who were being exploited. As an artisan, he homespun cotton into cloth and helped locals manufacture their own clothing in order to bring wealth to the poor through employment and business creation. He famously marched to the sea to encourage Indians to make their own salt and own their own lives through industry. Along the way, he developed and tested guiding principles for how to run a successful social enterprise.

Here are 17 things that social entrepreneurs can learn from Gandhi, from the best way to do accounting to how to communicate effectively.

01 | KEEP YOUR BOOKS CAREFULLY.
Accept payment in advance and do not discount. Constantly adjust your costs to match your revenue. As Gandhi said, “Without properly kept accounts it is difficult to keep faith in an organization’s pristine parity. Carefully kept accounts are a sine qua non for any organization. Without them, it falls into disrepute.”

02 | HUMILITY
Always doubt your knowledge and disclose your uncertainties.

03 | SPEAK PLAINLY
Have a humbleness of speech and use words with temperance so that your words have weight and you can be easily understood.

04 |ASSIMILATION
Be in all ways possible a respectable member of the community that you seek

05 | SERVANT LEADERSHIP
Play the part of assembler and organizer in change.

06 | PASSIVE RESISTANCE
Insist on what is right but do not act out of malice or aggression.

07 | HAVE A LAWYER’S MIND
Question the status quo and test your theories with research and logic.

08 | ADMIT YOUR ERRORS FREELY
Be quick to recognize impropriety and place a high value on relationships.

09 | CONFIDENCE IN COMFORT
Do not deprive yourself out of insecurity or embarrassment.

10 | ASSUME THE BEST IN PEOPLE
Give people the benefit of the doubt.

11 | COMMUNICATE
Find the strength to approach others to discuss difficult or taboo concepts.

12 | LOVE YOURSELF
Practice self-care.

13 |BE THOROUGH
Do due diligence and read all materials so that you can be prepared.

14 | BE SELFLESS
Don’t act out of personal ambition or challenge issues out of personal conflict.

15 | PLAN AHEAD
Never be caught without a next step in every direction planned.

16 | HAVE A BEGINNER’S MIND
Consider advice openly and seek information from different perspectives and backgrounds.

17 | RESERVE YOUR STRENGTH
Pick your battles and show restraint so that you can appreciate the beauty of compromise.

To learn more about Gandhi and his experiences as a social entrepreneur, I highly recommend reading his autobiography, My Experiments With Truth. There are many good companion readers to this book, and many biographies written by third parties, but Gandhi’s insights on his own life are what makes his first-hand account of his experiences so valuable.

FROM THE EDITOR
At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that cause us to think differently and think big-picture and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders and influencers within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.

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