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Important considerations for starting a social enterprise in today’s world

In a recent interview for Holyoake WA’s ‘Thought Bubbles’ series, I was asked to comment on what is important in starting a social enterprise today. Here are the key take-aways.

Some important points to consider when starting a social enterprise

1. Have a clear VISION about where you want to go and why. Stay very clear and true to that vision.

2. It takes quite a lot of COURAGE. Starting a social enterprise is quite a risky thing to do – so have courage but also understand the risk that’s involved.

3. Any change takes TIME. Starting a social enterprise is a journey – it’s a journey of learning and discovery, and that takes time. It will take so much longer than you ever thought it was going to!

Pitfalls to look out for

There are quite a few pitfalls along the way, certainly some of which we learned on our journey with Holyoake.

1. TRADEMARKS – Protecting your intellectual property by trademarking is really important.

2. TEAM – Make sure that you’re bringing other people in the organisation along with you.

3. SCALING – It’s important not to scale too quickly but to make sure that you bed down all your systems and processes. Be very clear about what you’re doing and how you’re going to do it, particularly around your business model, before you decide to scale. There are lots of risks you can run into if you try to scale too early.

An example

Holyoake’s DRUMBEAT program is an amazing program that has come a long way since its early days. It started in 2003 in the wheatbelt of Western Australia and is now running all over Australia and internationally, with a growing footprint in the U.S. We’ve learned a great deal along the way. Developing and growing an evidence-base was important to us from very early on.

DRUMBEAT programs service a range of sectors and have a major impact on mental health in communities – and now we’ve taken it into the digital domain!

Social enterprise and disruption

I think it’s a really exciting time for social enterprise and disruption. There are lots of possibilities that we haven’t even thought of yet, particularly in the digital space, such as gaming for young people and for adults. We’ve got artificial intelligence, virtual reality – it’s incredible what might be possible in the future!