Even though I work mostly with non-profit organizations, I seem to be surrounded by for-profit entrepreneurs. In general, entrepreneurs have a reputation for positive thinking and an uncanny ability to turn the worst news into some sort of advantage for themselves and their companies.
I am noticing a lot of the traits of the entrepreneurial mind-set as I get to know my fellow business owners at my office in the WIN Business Accelerator in Irvine, CA. One of the things I am noticing is that nothing seems to get them down. It does not matter what is happening in the economy or in politics or foreign affairs. No matter what, they are planning paths around obstacles and looking for opportunities to meet the needs of customers who are injured by current events.
In my grant writing efforts, I find I have a similar approach to dealing with existential threats to the grant writing project. In virtually every grant campaign I have ever participated in there usually comes a moment when I just hit a wall.
The new information I have learned about the charity, or the problem it addresses, leaves me thinking that there is absolutely no way of making it work. No matter what, however, out of this pit of despair, I find a new solution comes to me, to my staff, or to the charity itself. As such, I have found it does no good to lie about the pain or to underestimate the challenge. Living in denial about the flaws of either the charity or the grant seems to fix nothing.
By facing the problem directly, I am often able to convince the charity to make needed changes in their program, mission, or focus so that their grant writing efforts pay-off. The secret of their non-profit prosperity is also the secret of the irrepressible entrepreneurs who surround me: Look for the pain and find a way to fix the problem.