Ten Things Social Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Tuesday 23rd July 2019
Over some nice food and a few drinks, we got social entrepreneurs to tell us everything they have learnt. Sharing is caring, right?

Ten Things Social Entrepreneurs Need to Know

Back in June we hosted an "Evening With..." event, with Karen Lynch of Belu Water. Our alumni had let us know they'd like more time with our Experts, so this was the first in what will hopefully become a series of regular events. If you'd like to attend in the future, then please get in touch and let us know.

Around the table with Karen were Anna Gross of Project Access, which helps disadvantaged students access university places, Joanna Hamer of Juta Shoes, which employs women who face barriers to work to make ethical footwear, and Cemal Ezel of Change Please, which trains homeless people as baristas.

Sharing the lessons they have learnt during their time running social enterprises, here's ten things every social entrepreneur should know: 


  1. Sustainability is everything. Without you, there would be no business. Self care is essential and this is not just about doing less, but about replenishing your energy and nurturing yourself.
  2. It’s OK to scare yourself sometimes. Self-imposed schizophrenia comes with the territory of leading a business. Sometimes you feel like you’re doing the best job ever. Other times, that the whole thing is impossible. You are not alone in feeling this!
  3. There is value in embracing who you are, that is your true strength. Don’t waste your time and energy being hard on yourself. It isn’t productive or helpful.
  4. You can’t do this alone. It’s vital to hire a team around you to support you and make sure the business can grow and you can focus on doing what you love and what you’re good at.
  5. Sometimes it’s hard but you must always believe in yourself – while also being careful not to buy into the ‘hype’ of your own work
  6. We must remain focused on the problem (not what we think the solution is, that might change over time) and on our users.
  7. Being aware of and managing the culture of the organisation, our staff, is critical in the success of the venture. Ensuring that staff have autonomy and ownership of the work they are doing (by setting clear objectives and allowing them to problem solve) is key.
  8. We need to accept that it’s OK to make the wrong decision, we won’t always be right. The most damaging thing we can do is make no decision at all. That implies lack of conviction and direction and is totally demotivating to your team.
  9. Offering advice to others helps in many ways. It makes us realise how much we have learnt and now know and it’s a great, satisfying feeling.
  10. Spending time on a weekly basis to celebrate your progress and successes is really important e.g. a weekly progress email, laying out what’s been achieved, learnt and what should be celebrated. This may feel like a chore when you start writing it, but is very often a joyful exercise by the end.

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And of course, if you'd like to borrow one of our Experts from the Human Lending Library to help you with your social enterprise, apply here


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