Social Enterprise Top Tips for Success

group of people linking hands working together

group of people linking hands working together

I was delighted to contribute to the Social Enterprise Drive Week organised by I-SE

The event heard form leading social entrepreneurs who have gone through significant growth stages as our panel share a candid conversation about ‘what we didn’t know, but wish we had’. Facilitated by Janet Gray (MD, Feed My Creative CIC) and a panel of 4 established social enterprises: Citizen Coaching CICSport4LifeWild Oyster CIC and Rising Stars Property Solutions CIC.

Here are the key points I shared on the day

My background- following 20 years working in corporate companies I found the , further I got towards board level I became increasingly unhappy with the culture of business as usual and continually putting profits before people: staff and customers

I was convinced there was a better way to do business

I set up Citizen Coaching CIC in 2005 with the aim to provide timely easy access to jargon free counselling in a friendly professional environment for young people and adults in Birmingham.  I considered it a ‘Robin Hood’ business, where the profits from working with people who could afford to pay for counselling, financed the sessions for those who couldn’t.  We established our model, gathered the impact and sought who would buy the impacts we would create.

Martin’s thoughts on Growth

1. Build on Solid Foundations- sustainable business model, rigid process, impact measurement, the right people, legal compliance and clear values, communicate what you do effectively.

2. Move towards Step Change Growth- funding leverage, social investment (Key Fund, Resonance SITR), cash flow support (ART business loans), To trade in the broken market of mental health.  Take Opportunities but ‘stick to the knitting?’ Better to be famous for one thing? Don’t be a grant chaser.

4. Seek like minded partners- values, trust, fairness e.g Living Well Consortium.

5. Reputation is everything – network, communicate, media, PR, professional associations, ISO

6. Measure impact not as an academic expertise but as way of knowing you are making a true impact

7. Learn to let go! A board you can believe in, with a contribution focus. You don’t want an ‘itty bitty shitty committee’


Let me know if you would like to know more.

Want social enterprise support?- contact I-SE