A Social Business Christmas

Image: Christmas learning from Barcelona

Preparing for Christmas we realised that although we have a number of active and complex projects moving ahead into 2017, including more international book and author events, web and communications build-outs for community clients and development of our literacy and book projects, we had no homework!

So we have signed up, via the latest batch of FutureLearn subjects, to a course on Social Business and its development, delivered in partnership with the Universat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona.

Social Business: a Sustainable Way to Face the Most Pressing Needs of Our Time, as the on-line collaborative course is called, will enable us to test our belief that we are a social business, effectively working as a not for profit company, or rather generating profits with social outcome as the expected significant return.

‘We will begin by defining a Social Business according to Professor Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Laurate 2006. We will look at how a Social Business is different from other similar concepts such as Social Economy or Social Enterprise’.

We hope to see how the theories of Muhammad Yunus match our delivered practice, and to discover how other international social business developers interpret their work through the academic theory and practical dialogue that the ‘Pompeu Fabra course will deliver.

Our course starts on 5th December 2016, so there is still time to visit the FutureLearn pages and to sign up. Read more here

The course is free and lasts for four weeks, but is designed to enable you to both learn and share your experiences in just a few hours a week.

We’ll let you know how we get on. Happy Christmas to all our readers!

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  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Venturefest 2015, April 14th

    Our Partnership will be exhibiting in the Social Business Hub of Venturefest East Midlands, in Nottingham, on Tuesday 14th April 2015.

    Supporting the Social Business Hub visitors in their exploration of the newly emergent Social Business sector.

    venturefestLogoWe will be working with Roger Moors of SEEM in Nottingham, our client, helping to create new pathways to social outcome for mainstream business. These outcomes are no longer the sole remit of the Third Sector in the UK, with many SME’s particularly, being interested in how they can build social outcome into their business profile, delivery and surplus generation.

    We can help you achieve these aims.

    We work collaboratively with a wide range of organisations across the UK, helping establish new projects and sustainable community business ideas in schools, children’s centres, charities, social business and community enterprises of all kinds.

    We have a wealth of experience in business case development, business model exploration, budgeting and business plans – as well as expertise in ethical business operations, marketing and delivery.

    We are particularly strong in the childcare, education and literacy sectors. Finding new ways to add value to traditional supply chains and helping to introduce new models of ‘learning and earning’ into traditional institutions and settings.

    Bringing together the best of enterprise creation, third sector social gain and mediated management across our whole sector experience. We specialise, as a Partnership, in the following areas…

    • Social Business and Charity Development
    • Education, Early Years and Literacy
    • Funding and Governance Support
    • Web, New Media and original Content Creation

    You can still register for your free ticket for Venturefest East Midlands 2015 in Nottingham here.

    If you are passing the Social Business Hub, call and see how we might help your business ‘go social’. We’ll be pleased to see you.

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    See our catalogue of services at Dolphinbookbox here…

     


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Community Energy Projects

    Image 1Midsummer and a far cry from the dark days of a northern winter. So maybe not the best time to think about energy and energy savings.

    When we heard about community and energy we began to sit up from our sun loungers( only joking!) and start thinking about how communities in all shapes and sizes can take more control over their energy sources and become more efficient.

    There are many benefits, the most obvious being coming together as a group to make savings and to use the knowledge and skills of many people to benefit the whole community.

    There are now moves to work with, for examples, Parish Councils to engage with their community and become the mover of a community energy project. The team at Community Pathways have a great source of documents to support and develop the projects.

    In our partnership, we work with people and community organisations to deliver benefits to the communities and the agencies that support them.

    We see the potential impact of these projects in a number of ways; using volunteers, bringing together expertise in skills and knowledge, using local business and groups, working with people across age groups and across family involvements.

    There is nothing like making a saving to ensure that people will become active. And this way it can be the community that will be the real winner.

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    Sue Martin FRSA- SmithMartin Partnership LLP


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Having an Idea!

    A Wordle - ideas expressed

    You know that moment when suddenly the most brilliant idea comes into your head? What happens from then can either make the idea come alive or it remains dormant.

    Two young people who have had brilliant ideas and been able to put them into practice are Pavegen founder Laurence Kemball-Cook and Raspberry Pi co -creator, Eben Upton.

    In the Royal Society for the Arts publication this Autumn, 2012, they talked about their thoughts on establishing a working model for their ideas. Both are now proven and making great strides in improving lives using technology.

    But without the ‘good idea’ even technology is unable to change and improve how we live; although it can be the ‘tool box’ and make the idea possible.

    So what are the principles needed? Where does a good idea go from here? How steely are your nerves? Because once your idea takes off it can explode into a hungry world.
    And how do you ‘hang on’ to the originality and ensure the idea is not swallowed up by larger and wealthier organisations?

    Both Laurence Kemball Cook and Eben Upton share similar approaches; the ideas they conceived were alongside other original work, they had the intrigue to follow the idea, they sought funding which would enable the idea to take shape but not so big that they lost control and they were prepared to deviate in the development when needed.

    Pavegen is a new concept using flooring and people’s steps to produce energy.
    Raspberry Pi is an affordable credit card sized computer that can be used in schools to teach technology.
    Both on their way to success and will make a huge difference to people’s lives.

    Lots of ideas are already finding their way into our global technological society. Never easy but if you have an idea, it could be the very one to change the life for someone out there.

    Tocare el cielo con dito‘  Touch the sky with your finger tips!

    Sue Martin FRSA

    SmithMartin Partnership LLP Creative, entrepreneurial and flexible and pleased to work with RSA in promotion of ‘free thinkers‘.

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  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Sydney Opera House

    A visit to Sydney Opera House

    On a recent visit to Sydney Opera House we had a tour of the inside, listened to stories about the building and how it all works.

    It was a great example of work and leisure coming together.

    It’s always good to have a balance between work and leisure and sometimes the boundaries are pretty blurred. As a partnership we like to work to be enjoyed. Sydney Opera House is a good example.

    This iconic building, known the world over, started with a project from Sydney for a new building on a partially derelict site on the peninsula near Circular Quay.

    From the vast numbers of people applying, Jorn Utzon  was chosen because the Finnish judge saw the potential of this dreamy vision of the shell type structure. To plan and design this revolutionary building needed a decision maker and a brave personality.

    Jorn Utzon liked to work on the ‘edge of the possible’.

    The cost of the building was estimated way below the eventual cost of over £120 million dollars in the 1960’s . Sydney Council raised all of the money through a lottery and the building was paid for in 18 months.

    The structure proved hard to produce initially. One night Utzon phoned his colleague with the answer. The solution was a spherical model, of which all the shells would be a part.

    Sadly for Utzon a change of government meant that he was asked to work with a committee. He was not prepared to do this and so left the finishing of the building to another team.

    Interior, looking out picture - Sydney Opera House

    The inside spaces of the building, the foyers and the concert halls are stunning, the organisation is entrepreneurial too and involves the artists and performers in their own organisation and marketing.

    Performers can buy a certain length of time and number of performances, for which they operate the costs themselves or sell merchandise and promote as they wish.The price of tickets is arranged by the performer.

    In effect Sydney Opera House offers the venue and leaves the rest to the enterprise of the artist.

    They also charge rents to other organisations who operate the utilites and retail outlets. As yet they cover 80% of their costs,with 20% coming from state funding.

    A good model of enterprise and sustainablity!

    An iconic building for a beautiful city, Australian enterprise for a world audience,work and leisure hand in hand.

    As they say so often down under, ‘ No worries!’

    Roof structures at Sydney Opera House

    Sue Martin – SmithMartin Partnership LLP – Enterprise and creativity


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • The Collected Works

    We are really pleased to have been jointly instrumental in creating a new collaborative professional partnership in Collected Works.

    This new group exercises the creative energy of SmithMartin and WilsonGoodchild.

    The latter is a Lincolnshire based consultancy, passionate and reflective about social outcomes, with a different yet complimentary sets of skills from our core partnership at SmithMartin.

    Our lived experience as a social business is always to concentrate on the social and community outcome ahead of the surplus that may be generated.

    All consultancies need to invoice to survive, with the new Collected Works initiative offers both organisations, we would argue, can find a way to work collaboratively, sharing knowledge and expertise, along with technical resources.

    Tim Smith, partner at SmithMartin said..

    We welcome new projects in the same way we did before, but see Collected Works, and the joint contribution with WilsonGoodchild, as a way to maximise the social return from our efforts, whilst using economies of scale and different, but complimentary expertise, to undertake bids, join consortia, undertake enterprise development and research projects.

    Sharing our ideas and direction of travel, maximising community outcome and sharing revenue wherever we can…

    If you are a single consultant, looking to develop a new project, or to add value to existing work, give the Collected Works a thoughtful look.

    We’ll be happy to talk without obligation.


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Social entrepreneur – five cornerstones

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    Starting a business, social or otherwise, is a leap of faith. Faith in yourself or your team, faith in your product or service and faith in your audience, customers or community of interest.

    Below are some basic tenets to help your vision endure, each element when applied well will add to your chances of success, generate turnover and increase your capacity to generate surpluses…

     

    1. Get your governance model right:

    Whether you want to be a limited company, by guarantee or shareholding, a charity or a management committee within an existing organisation, dedicated to providing a service – then working hard to research, take advice and recognise the rationale for the way your organisation is structured will pay huge dividends later on.

    2. Really know why you are doing it:

    Understanding why your business and governance is structured the way it is tempers what people will think about your service. Clarity here will not only help you build effective internal management processes, but will also add to perceptions of your value with your customers or client base.

    3. Share the knowledge:

    Be open and honest with yourself and amongst your fellow board or committee members. Work hard to make sure that the clarity you have is shared and understood by all. Keep good minutes, business records and accounts – share them and talk about them together. Don’t have a ‘closet controller’ at the table.

    If you are in the not for profit sector, have a new service and a shiny new web site – use it to publish that ethical procurement policy, use it to explain where your profits go, use it to make sure your mission is evident in your strapline. Don’t assume we will know.

    4. Suppress the ego:

    Charismatic, energetic and driven project leaders are part of start-ups. The hunter-gatherer can be a great asset when looking for new markets and new product opportunities. Remember though, that in businesses of all kinds the more pastoral, contemplative team member also has their role to play and skill set to offer.

    Be bold by all means, but don’t be a bully.

    5. Accept the risk:

    Risk is part of any entrepreneurial activity. It’s not why you do it, but processes, people and products are never infallible. If you have energetically and intelligently pulled together your team, implemented your processes and delivered your service, then you will also know when the nerve endings are starting to jangle as failure or missed targets approach.

    Embrace that feeling and use that same energy to drive forward the next phase of your business development.

    Accepting risk doesn’t mean you have to be an Horatio on the bridge, lonely sword in hand facing the ravenous horde as they approach. By sharing and being open you can reach out for advice and help…there’s plenty out there.

    (SmithMartin LLP provide ethical business, governance and distribution advice and support across a wide range of social enterprise, charity and private sector businesses.

    Our web service writes effective, income generating copy and provides fault free, secure, best value software and hardware solutions – we are your enterprise ‘in the cloud’).


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Public service co-operators

    cooperativeBusinessPicMoving from the wrap around direct support of the pubic sector and taking services into another social business form can be an amazing journey. It can also be a rocky road fraught with misunderstanding and hesitancy.

    Co-operatives UK, working with Mutual Ventures, have produced a short primer on how to take public sector services into the cooperative domain.

    Their guided journey manual, an overview on developing the big idea, taking your plans to realisation and how to get started, is available online here (.pdf document 564Kb).

    This document is of interest to those considering the emergence of public sector mutuals, however it does also offer sound thinking and guidance on frameworks of action for any social or charitable business getting ready to flower.

    What is it we should be thinking about? Co-operative Business District: a guided journey to discover your own public service co-operative destination can tell you.

    Peter Marsh and David Fairhurst, writing in The Guardian recently have sought to take the current temperature of how the government’s new initiative on employee owned co-operatives is proceeding.

    Their early findings are ‘…that it is a lot of hard work, but well worth it’.

    TPPlaw also have a Mutuals for Local Authority Service Delivery document available from their website. (Free subscription to download).

    TPP offer their professional wisdom on governance cases, development and change in the work force and how estates management inside a local authority can be brokered under a mutuals banner.

    Are mutuals the governance form for the Big Society?


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...

  • Realism in social business development

    The short video below tells the story of an organisation and team, in this case, in the technology sector, that burned through 40 million dollars of capital in five years and failed on a titanic scale.

    If you are starting your community cafe, developing a small manufacturing adjunct to your charity, or setting up a retail outlet to support the funding of a project, then these numbers and the scale of the doomed process can be dizzying.

    What does the speaker tell you that can be relevant to your social and enterprise outcomes?

    Surprisingly, the entrepreneur in this case, Eric Ries, offers viewers three important lessons learned from the spectacular failure of his business.

    How to embrace reality, how not to assume you automatically know what your customers or clients want and to be flexible enough to change the plan when you need to.

    All lessons that even the smallest social business enterprise team can benefit from…and he’s still upbeat and engaging after his experiences too.

    (Source: Original video Achieving Grandiose Failure – Stanford University Entrepreneurship programme)


  • News and fresh thinking from SmithMartin Partnership LLP
    We are always happy to explore new partnerships and projects in our core expertise areas - childcare, early years, education, charities, social business, governance, fund raising, literacy, books and web communications to support the work across all sectors.

    Email office@smithmartinpartnership.com for an exploratory review...