7 tips for start up social entrepreneurs

by David McGlashan

At the School for Social Entrepreneurs we have been delivering courses to people starting up social enterprises and social businesses for fifteen years.   Here are seven useful tips if you are thinking about starting your own project:

1.        Get on and do it 

If you have an idea for a social enterprise, you won’t get anywhere without giving it a go.  There are some fantastic organisations that can support you to get your idea up and running.  To begin with, you could just pilot one element of a larger idea; don’t be afraid to fail (but make sure that you learn from it).  

2.       Try to map out your social impact

What exactly is it that you are trying to achieve and how are you going to measure whether you are achieving it? If you achieve your intended social impact, what would the world look like? Knowing this will give you a clearer strategy for your organisation and is vital when you are seeking funding.  

3.       Be careful to balance the social with the enterprise

It sounds harsh, but if you don’t have an income then you don’t have an enterprise.  Think about how you are going to ensure there is enough money coming into the organisation to keep it sustainable.  Try to have a diverse income stream, so that you do not become dependent on a single source of money.

4.       Network, network, network!

Being a social entrepreneur can be lonely; people often don’t understand what you are doing and can think that you are slightly mad!  Network with other social entrepreneurs, share ideas and look for opportunities to collaborate; just be careful to strike a careful balance between the quality of networking and the quantity of networking.

5.       Build up a pool of supporters you can trust

Find people who can act as the champions of your organisation and do everything they can to help you to succeed; these could range from volunteers giving you their time to someone fighting your corner to get you support from within a large corporate.

6.       Use every opportunity to raise your profile

This can be both the profile of your organisation and your own personal profile.  Shout about your successes, look for opportunities to engage with the press, write blogs, tweet, take part in discussion panels – anything to become more visible.

7.        Come to the School for Social Entrepreneurs!

Yes, this is a plug but it’s a valuable one.  At the school we offer support to individuals looking to establish or scale social enterprises and social businesses.  Our courses vary in length from one day to one year and cover all aspects of social entrepreneurship.  If you are just starting up, that’s fine – you only need an idea.  Visit www.the-sse.org for more information.

This post is by SSE’s Enterprise Officer, David McGlashan.  You can follow him on Twitter @davemcglashan

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