Starting a social enterprise is similar to starting any business or new venture… it’s not easy and the road has many twists and turns. Sometimes its difficult to see a clear path to take and often there are forks in the road… without any road signs or even a map to guide you. Often you only have yourself to rely on and it can be a lonely experience at times. At times it can be hard dealing with the lack of understanding of those around you; you might even have to deal with outright opposition to your ideas and plans. At times like these you need to possess several qualities if you are to persevere to the end.

Perseverance… sound obvious I know but true nevertheless. In order to succeed you have to have the determination to overcome all obstacles, opposition and hurdles along the way.

Self-Belief…. its natural to have doubts and to be honest, any entrepreneur who doesn’t seems to me to be disconnected from reality. However, to overcome all these and eventually to triumph requires that not only do you believe in the vision but you also need to believe in your ability to bring it into reality.

Humility… may seem the opposite of self-belief but its not. At some point you will eventually realise you don’t have all the answers and more importantly, its impossible for one person to do everything. Somewhere along the journey (maybe even at the start) you will need identify others who share the vision and have the requisite gifts, experience and knowledge that you lack to make the whole thing work. I’m not talking about staff (or volunteers) here but rather individuals who would make ideal board members or directors.

Vision… every great social enterprise (or charity, business, project etc) starts with a vision, a BIG IDEA, a dream of what is possible, of a solution to a problem, an issue. It should be one that you are passionate about, such as helping a particular group overcome a set of circumstances (poverty, discrimination, lack of opportunity etc) or righting an injustice or perhaps creating something new (be it a product or service) that will help make the world a better place.

So, you have started the journey. You may be travelling alone or have companions. You may or may not feel you are fully prepared for every eventuality. One thing is certain… it’s going to be interesting!

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