When we were undergoing our re-branding (the final part of which, the website, will be coming soon), we did discuss whether we should change our name. Why? Because people get misled by the word ‘School’, and assume we are an academic institution delivering taught content/programmes. When, as anyone who knows us will tell you, our focus is on action learning and personal support: learning by doing, and gaining confidence and self-esteem, as well as business skills and knowledge, to achieve personal and project development. But some people don’t get past the word ‘School’….
Anyway, as you will have noticed, we never got that far down the line of a name change, given the track record of the organisation, its reputation, and so forth (the agency who suggested the name ‘Spark’ will remain nameless; although if we ever diversify into soap powder, we may revisit). One of my former colleagues, Matthew Thomson (now at the London Community Recycling Network), suggested cunningly that we should change it from School FOR Social Entrepreneurs to School OF Social Entrepreneurs, making ‘school’ the collective noun for social entrepreneurs, like…er…whales. And making clear that we are representative as well as service-driven.
Why am I burbling on about all this? Because I was asked to give feedback about a new book, Your Ethical Business, which is being launched in March. It aims to be "a ‘how to’ handbook covering everything you need to know about starting and succeeding in an ethical enterprise" and it’s pretty good: clear, coherent, and covering all the main areas. But, as you may have already guessed from the above, we are mentioned only as delivering ‘academic programmes’ and bracketed with accredited university courses, rather than listed as a deliver of business support in the (otherwise very good) resources directory. Very frustrating and, given that all our literature/website makes clear that our ethos/aproach is the exact OPPOSITE of an academic programme, I can only assume it is because we are called ‘School’.
Rant over. The book is a good introduction to the field, and worth adding to your reference library, although it does make out that it’s all rather easier than is really the case. I would have put a few more lines in about the need for personal support, support networks, work-life balance and so forth which we have seen emerge as key issues for social entrepreneurs over the years. The only other comment I would give is that, as someone said to me recently, entrepreneurs (of all types) have a drive and spirit that can’t be gained from a book and, if they’re a true entrepreneur, they probably won’t have time to read it anyway…..