What would be the one piece of advice you would give to an aspiring social innovator, a member of the Social Innovation Academy, who has only two things at the moment: a big heart and a willingness to do something?

You have a fantastic idea and you strongly believe in its potential to change the world for the better. You have dreamt about it, you have made your own plans but you only have two things at the moment: a big heart and the willingness to move forward. So what do you do next? Do you follow your passion? We asked 8 inspiring social innovators from different fields, sectors and countries to share their advice on the secret to starting out. Let them inspire and guide us.

`My advice is to START! Anywhere you are right now is the RIGHT place to START. It is also advisable to get experience especially from a structured organization before launching out on your own. In my case, I spent first 5 years of my career in a multinational company to learn processes, people management and did the project as a side gig before finally launching out. This will help build a network, a financial and knowledge base for your venture to succeed.’ says Adetunji Adeniran, co-founder and consultant at Lurvity Limited, (an engineering consulting and business advisory firm providing innovative, creative and professional services in infrastructure, engineering and energy sectors).

Adetunji AdeniranHopefield Network 

‘A big heart and an endless willingness to do something are the main ingredients to contribute! Therefore, always show solidarity and CONTRIBUTE unstoppably! Always do the right thing, no matter what. It’s not a matter of ethics, it’s a way of life.’ is the advice of Nicholas Protonotarios who is in charge of “The Hub Events” series of lectures in social sciences.

Nicholas ProtonotariosThe Hub Events

`The most important advice is to keep innovating, with the audience at the ‘core’, because needs are constantly evolving. As a case in point, while our services are considered innovative, we have also been constantly adding new services. For instance, we are now offering personalised support services to cancer patients based on their specific individual needs – making the support and information each patient receives absolutely unique, based on their diagnosis, treatments, co-morbidities, nutrition and exercise habits, etc. This leads to each patient receiving the right combination of material out of more than 20,000 different combinations available.’ says the co-founder of Care Across, says Thanos Kosmidis who runs a digital start-up company focusing on cancer.

Thanos KosmidisCare Across  

 ‘The secrets of success: the right timing and the right team, everything else is less important.‘ says Toni Staykova, co-founder of the UKeMED Platform which works as a single open operational space to support the development and deployment of telematic services for the management and sharing of knowledge and experience among healthcare professionals in all operational aspects around the world.

Toni Staykova, UKeMED  

‘The first prerequisite you have to check is that there is a societal need to address. The second condition the innovator has to secure is that there is a core team that is keen to support the vision and implement the plan. A third issue is to plan how to raise the money in order to fund the action plan.’ says Stathis Haikalis being responsible for the Human Grid Project which is about connecting social initiatives and volunteer groups in Greece.

Stathis HaikalisHuman Grid Project 

‘Don’t overthink, just get started! There are always a million reasons that can hold you back and never get to even start what you want because of fear. With determination, hard work and great passion in what you want to achieve, anything is possible!’ says Effie Kyrtata, the co-founder and CEO of Reload Greece, a UK registered charity which enables a new generation of entrepreneurs to start businesses that have a social and economic impact in their home country.

Effie Kyrtata, Reload Greece 

‘I have given these (three!) pieces of advice before, but they really do encapsulate what I truly believe, so I apologize in advance if they are repetitive: whatever your idea is make sure that it solves a social problem by creating systemic change (i.e. creating a new structure or system to solve a problem rather than reconfiguring existing systems). The world doesn’t have time for piecemeal solutions or good/green wash. Try to create an emotional reaction in those you want to engage with your initiative. If people feel empathetic to what you are doing, they will support it more readily and you may well inspire others to follow in your footsteps. Get all the advice you can and never stop learning. There are always amazing mentors and supporters out there ready to help you along your path or even alter your path if necessary: let them help you!’ is the advice of Anna-Liisa Googs, Co-Founder and Partner at C3 Partners – Executives on Demand (C3P), a UAE-based advisory firm providing senior executive support services to businesses needing temporary management solutions.

Anna-Liisa GoggsConsult and Coach for a Cause (C3) 

Konstantinos Politis, founder of Socialinnov, a non-profit endeavour with a mission to eliminate the digital skills gap and high unemployment rates by educating individuals and connecting technological talent with the private sector says that ‘The only lost battles are the ones that you never fought.

Konstantinos PolitisSocialinnov   

Would you like to learn how inspiring social innovators answer other important questions such as how to capture and engage your audience or how to change systems and perceptions? 

Check out the Social Innovation Academy - the first fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.  If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our friends or follow us on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.

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