Experiences of a Social Entrepreneur: Part Two
If you haven’t seen Part One of this three part blog post- please see it here! I first discussed knowing your market, dealing with difficult situations and a small summary of starting out. This part is asking questions like, ‘What is a social enterprise?’ and ‘Tips from Important Mistakes’.
So What Is A ‘Social Enterprise’?
A lot of folk will not know what a social enterprise is, so here it is simply; a business with a social purpose. Keep Real is a social enterprise as it uses the profits from the goods sold to fund mental health workshops in Yorkshire. Profit isn’t simply for profit, it is aiming to have a purpose within the community. Really cool, huh?
Business doesn’t have to be a ‘social enterprise’ to have an impact, it can be full blown CIC (Community Interest Company), registered charity, a Limited Company, a Corporation…the list goes on. The WHY of your business should be part of that evaluation. I first wanted Keep Real to be a CIC, but the brand is still figuring out it’s territory for now- after all, Keep Real hasn’t even been a year into launch! I have to think about the long term future for me as a person- and more than anything would I love to do my business full time and make a living. If I can support the community and also pay my bills- that ticks ‘the dream’ off my bucket list.
Tips From My (Important) Mistakes
If you’re not making mistakes along the way, it’s either a miracle or you’re bad at being an entrepreneur. Without mistakes…how will you learn? How will you grow?
- Don’t Run Before You Can Walk – When I first started out, I was looking for that ‘quick fix’ of business that I’m sure when you’re an eager beaver like I was (and still am) about your idea- then you’ll jump a lot of checkpoints to get to the final product. I’ve learned that patience and taking risks go hand in hand. Even if that’s as simple as choosing to paying extra for a small part of your packaging because it’s sustainably sourced although longer for delivery, compared a company that will do it cheaper and faster for you. Quicker never means better. Make sure you cover all options before making your move. A mistake I made when being a naive start up- was selecting a supplier who would do the job quicker and because my budget was low, it was all I could afford. I’m glad I made the t-shirt I did, as it’s a foundation for growth. I now know what suppliers I choose, and how good the quality it is. Read How To Start A Creative Business for a jargon free insight.
- Your Hobby is a BUSINESS…Don’t Forget About You!! – I’ve read a lot of books regarding creative entrepreneurs, and I can say for myself that I still struggle with this one. Hey, I know. I know. When you’ve got a wonderful idea, it’s a hobby. You love doing it, you love doing it so much you don’t care about the money. My business advisor even told me once…‘Kim… have you thought about the money side of things?’ which is just something as a social entrepreneur I didn’t think about at all. I cared about the change it would made, not necessarily the profit margins. Don’t forget where you fit into the business.
- Don’t Underestimate Yourself – Confidence is something that comes with time. Did I think I’d be public speaking, having meetings and going to conferences 3 or 4 years ago? Did I hell! As some of you know my story, I suffered with anxiety during my college and some of my university years. Underestimating yourself, means you’re underestimating your business. It’s a lot on your shoulders, but the business depends on you. Because the business is you. I didn’t take a lot of opportunities because I didn’t believe in myself. There’s that conflict of wanting to make your business work- but there’s only so much talking you can do. You need to DO something. That requires a leap of faith, which you need to be willing to take. Don’t underestimate your abilities.
- Learn To Say ‘No’ – Oh man, this oneeeee! Ok, so I’ve said yes to a lot of things because I was afraid of saying no- and definitely payed for it in the end…literally. I gave a lot of products away for free and not really seeing the downside to it…until I realised I was minus money and no way of funding the next idea. It’s ok to say no to opportunities that don’t sit well with you, or compromise yourself as a person. I nearly took a commission from a record store in the UK that wanted bright colour cartoon drawings because it paid well. But I said no because it just wasn’t right for me. You’ll soon realise what you hold dear and what your values are once you have a sweet biz-baby to take care of. Learn to take a step back and realise who you are and what you value the most.
Have you made any important mistakes if you are freelance, starting a business or setting up a creative side hustle?