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In this last year, I’ve stepped away from fundraising full time and started to grow different businesses. And I’ve done fairly well, which makes me wonder, are fundraising and entrepreneurship similar? Could fundraising be the first step to starting your own business?

Let’s take a look.

Fundraising: You learn how to market your nonprofit with direct mail.
Entrepreneurship: You learn how to market your business with direct mail.

Fundraising:You realize you can’t do it all alone. You learn how to ask for help.
Entrepreneurship: You realize you can’t do it all alone. You learn to ask for help.

Fundraising:You learn how to ask for money. You learn how to write grants, some of which are more complicated than the most complicated loan application you’d ever want to see for a start-up business.

You learn how to write a strategic plan and a development plan, which, combined with grantwriting, can prepare you for writing a business plan.

Fundraising: You learn how to nurture relationships with donors by giving them many little touches throughout the year.
Entrepreneurship: You learn how to nurture relationships with customers in the same way.

Fundraising:You take the long view. You don’t want a gift, you want a giver.
Entrepreneurship:You take the long view. You don’t want just one sale. You want a repeat customer.

Fundraising: You learn how to market your nonprofit with social media, and build relationships.
Entrepreneurship: You learn how to market your business with social media, and build relationships.

Fundraising: You learn how to get in the news, and about effective fundraising copy that will make people interested in what you do.
Entrepreneurship: You learn how to get in the news, and about effective ad copy that will make people interested in what you do.

Fundraising: You try to get everything for free, or at a discount, because as a nonprofit, you have no budget.
Entrepreneurship: You try to get everything for free, or at a discount, because as a startup, you have no budget.

Fundraising: You look for and take every opportunity you can to build multiple streams of income for your nonprofit.
Entrepreneurship: You look for and take every opportunity and partnership you can to build multiple streams of income for your business.

So, has anyone ever thought of this before? Am I the only one?

What does this mean for you?

If you’re a one person shop, this could be your year to start your own business on the side!

If you’re in a bigger shop, this could be the year where you shadow different people in your office to find out what they do, if you’d like to prepare yourself to become an entrepreneur.

How would you do this?

What would you sell?

What services would you offer?

What is the first step?

Don’t worry. Just start brainstorming. Ask yourself what you would really feel fulfilled doing.

And then if you start to worry about being a business owner, think about the last year, two years, three years, four years, when you’ve been working at a nonprofit, and had to do everything alone. You had to teach yourself how to write direct mail. You had to teach yourself how to run an event. You had to teach yourself how to write a grant. You had to teach yourself how to make a budget. You had to learn from your mistakes. You had to learn about social media, websites, and other ways to market your nonprofit online. By now, you should know a LOT!

You took responsibility for the future of the organization on your shoulders. If you can shoulder THIS much responsibility already, why not start your own business?