Business Operations

Hiring candidates with different expertise


When hiring an enterprise manager to start or expand your venture, a dream candidate would be someone who has expertise in the business you are running; extensive management experience; a history of working with your target population; and is willing to do all of this without owning a share of the business.

Unfortunately, due to the non-traditional nature of the social entrepreneurial field, “dream candidates” are often hard to find. Your organization may need to hire someone without every characteristic for which you are looking. When hiring, keep in mind the skills that are essential, and which ones could be developed in your potential candidates via trainings and consultants.

The following are the pros and cons of hiring candidates with strictly entrepreneurial, management, or client focused expertise:


Hiring an expert in the business that you’re running


  • Hands-on, practical experience in your business
  • Knowledge of market, customer base and industry standards
  • Often someone from the for-profit realm who is highly motivated and excited to “give something back to their community


  • May not have experience working with your population and may be skeptical as to how “work ready” your employees actually are
  • May have little experience supervising a diverse workforce
  • May not have worked in an environment where there is limited capital and where implementation decisions may be slower and less autonomous


Hire an individual with extensive management experience


  • Adept at motivating and managing pers on n el , and ex peri en ced in progra m development and implementation
  • Most likely will have experience supervising a diverse workforce
  • Likely to adapt to your organization’s culture


  • May have little or no expertise in the specific business
  • May have little or no experience working with a social mission
  • May need assistance with creation of business plan and financial projections


Hire an individual with social service experience


  • Typically a promotion from within — which means they are aligned with your organization’s core values and mission
  • They have experience working with your target population or similar populations
  • They may be well connected with the community which can alleviate “community concerns” and assist in gaining positive PR


  • May have little or no direct business experience
  • May require extensive business training
  • May have difficulty managing the “double bottom line”



Hiring the right entrepreneur is key to the success of a social purpose enterprise – don’t let time constraints pressure you into hiring the wrong candidate. Any candidate whom you are seriously considering should have the essential skills as previously defined by your organization.

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