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)

Creating a more equal and productive Britain

25th Anniversary Lecture Daycare Trust


Don’t blame families, support them and help them to achieve better outcomes.” Sir James Heckman

By special invitation from Daycare Trust, the leading economist and Nobel Prize winner, Sir James Heckman of the University of Chicago, gave an outstanding lecture, delivered in the Churchill Rooms at the Treasury.

He argued that there is great economic benefit through the investment in supporting families and provision of good early years experiences, and this far outweighs the benefit of more costly programmes at a later stage.

In economic terms the long term benefit to society has a much higher return than the cost of projects such as for eg. support for those aged over 16 not in employment, education or training, reducing criminality, single, young parenthood, and concerns with issues of social disadvantage. He provided much evidence to support this and called for prevention programmes to be in place instead of remediation.

He called for professionals to work together and for the measurement base to be broadened with a focus on social or family policy rather than separation in to education, health and social care.

Sir James referred to the development of non cognitive skills as being a fundamental determinant in the longer term cognitive skills.

As an example he looked at some research from Hart and Risley, 1995, on the vocabulary of children. At the age of 2 in working class families in the US children had a vocabulary of 616 words, whereas in professional families the vocabulary increased to 2553 words.

Much to think about. The research gives credence to the belief that we have in our partnership,  that our work, which delivers support to children and families in social and economic disadvantage, clearly helps change community landscapes.

More information will be available on the Daycare Trust website and as a trustee of Daycare Trust,  immensely proud to be part of a campaigning organisation leading change for improvements for the lives of families.

SmithMartin Partnership LLP – engaging with communities and broadening horizons



Down Under in Sydney

DSCF0342Travelling to Sydney means more than just a visit down under.

On our second visit this year to develop a literacy project for children and families we met with some great people; Year 4 children, school teams, parents, authors,publishers and many more.

The project, Books go Walkabout, brings authors and illustrators to children from both sides of the world! Ambitious, yes but really exciting.

Some of that eternal Aussie optimism catching hold.

We are finding ways of working through the systems and enabling a dialogue to take place from one country to the other. It will share stories and bring new dimensions to children as authors from across the world can bring their perspective.

Our first venture is with a school in Sydney and an English author, Ifeoma Onyefulu.

Ifeoma travels to a different part of Africa most years taking the most amazing photos and building stories.

This is followed by an Australian author, Lindy Batchelor sharing her work with a school near Cambridge.

Much work to do in pioneering a new fledging venture and our work in business structures is a key part in making it a success.




Sue Martin – SmithMartin Partnership – broadening horizons in communities