Awards for Social Enterprise

socialenterpriseawardsLogoIf you are a social enterprise active for two years or more, and can meet the published criteria, you can now apply to the Social Enterprise Awards 2016.

The application process is now open and you will find the criteria and award categories on this page of

The full application process is similarly available on-line from the same site. See more here.

Award categories available this year include…

  • One to Watch Award
  • Social Impact Award
  • Buy Social – the market builder award
  • Social Investment Deal of the Year
  • Health & Social Care Social Enterprise
  • Consumer Facing Social Enterprise
  • Education, Training and Jobs Social enterprise of the Year
  • Environmentla Social Enterprise of the Year
  • Inspiring Youth Enterprise Award
  • Social Enterprise Women’s Champion
  • International Impact

There is plenty to go for. Plenty of awards to reflect the diversity, ambition and range of economic activity with a social heart across our regions.

If you do apply, the very best of luck.

Please note: Closing date for applications is Friday, 8th July 2016

(Source: (Accessed: 10.06.2016)

Helping enterprise grow…

DolphinBookBox returns

DolphinBookBox - services from SmithMartin image
All our services in one place…

We have recently re-energised our oldest brand, DolphinBookBox. Some 10 years or so ago this was the delivery mechanism on-line for our community library and book delivery service.

What we have found recently is that, after over a decade of development, our Partnership ‘elevator pitch’ – what is it you do? – was getting longer and longer.

To stop our meeting attendees glazing over, as if they would, we have recompiled the BookBox web site and converted it into a feature suite for our miscellany of Partnership projects and services.

There is a logic to our Partnership offering, with inter-connected themes for all our work.

Our print and design service keys into our community web service, our project management efforts around community buildings key into our skills in governance and policy advice.

Our children’s book business delivery synergises with our international on-line contact project Books go Walkabout, which itself feeds projects into our publishing house activities for new eBooks and recharged back catalogue creation….and so on.

You can see the connections all on one website here, at

SmithMartin LLP – diverse connnectivity and services for your project.

BME support flowers in Cambridgeshire

We are delighted as a partnership to be the web publishers for the new information directory for ABMEC,  a Cambridgeshire based CIC, supporting the BME community in the county.

ABMEC is a lottery funded project, providing resources, training and advice to its community of interest for the last five years.

We are happy to be able to institute a web reference information resource and to maintain the quality and accessibility of the information for ABMEC after the project has reached fruition this year.

You can find the new directory online here at

The service is provided by our community web arm, Thirdsectorweb, who are specialist web and communication suppliers for the charity, education and local authority sectors.

You can find the Thirdsectorweb team here. As works in progress, online directories of socially useful  information are never complete.

If you have information that can go into the directory just add the details to the contact us page on the directory website. The directory team will make sure your information is always current and up to date.

SmithMartin – helping support communities across the UK. 

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.

Social entrepreneur – five cornerstones



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’).

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?

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)

Startup Britain – a useful web resource?

The machinery of social business developmentThe ‘Startup Britain’ web site has the support of the Prime Minister – but is it, as some commentators have cynically described a government backed web link-farm – offering already available resources to a jaded audience?

If you have been working in the Third Sector for some time, the notion of volunteering, enterprise generation at a community level and the support of young people and the economically disenfranchised will not have the same bright patina as the media and government might suggest. You will have been doing all of it for some time.

However, any portal which brings together diverse information and advice, as well as providing access to enterprise offers, will by its very nature offer knowledge to startups and new enterprises, whether social or not, which might remain undiscovered if not aggregated in the way that the Startup Britain site does, we would argue.

There is a lengthy article debating the negative aspects of Startup Britain on the PostDesk site.

Yes, the site does contain offers from commercial sources which are available elsewhere. Just as the Startup Britain web site is itself not by government, but a private sector organisation driven by a group of existing entrepreneurs.

However, starting a community or social enterprise, or even supporting the emergence of any small local business is a complex and resource intensive process. When you are completely enveloped in your own organisation it is easy to assume knowledge, to assume that ‘everyone must know this’.

They do not and the positive contribution that an aggregator site like Startup Britain can deliver is large, we think. The site does allow you to sign up for so-called offers, and yes they are available elsewhere, but there is also a wealth of information and advice on business planning, insurance, finance, funding and getting your basic business idea right in the first place.

The point being that you can review all of it in one place and leaven it all through the ethical and philosophical filter of our sector. Whether your business idea is for mainstream commerce or the community sector, you still need to grapple with the beasts of cash flow, risk, operational delivery, marketing and business planning.

We think Startup Britain is a creditable source of inspiration and ideas, for entrepreneurs in any sector. Some of the sources from the site we liked were Smarta – broad advice and resources for businesses of all types, the Brightideastrust – very innovational support for inner city young entrepreneurs and Springwise – a terrific source of business ideas to get your creativity going.

In the social business sector how you make your money is vital, but when made it’s what you do with it for your community of interest that really counts. Start a social enterprise today…and see the real change you can make. That’s the big idea for the big society.

Creating the right zone

We have been doing a lot of work recently on the creation of good governance structures for a variety of charitable and social enterprise organisations.

Policies and process play a large part in this delivery, but so do relationships. How boards or committees relate to one another, how their vision of what it is they think they are doing as individuals all temper the outcome of organisational development exchanges.

The video below from  EQmentor places stress on emotional safety as a facet of healthy organisational development.

A nicely put argument about the wealth of resources that organisations offer to health and safety of the physical kind, but highlighting the meagreness of consideration often given to enotional support.

We are not totally won over on the office as home concept, which is not really a part of the argument, but the illustration of how at home we feel safe because we talk to each other, know each other very well and have permission to fail does ring a chime.

Governance within the board room is also about emotional safety and should operate along these lines too, we would argue, for an organisation in our sector to be fully functioning.

A group who operate on this ‘home’ principal can be more effective and dynamic. Is this what happens in governance development situations?

Do you agree?

Time and the social entrepreneur

stress and anxiety imageWe are regular readers of – a great source of inspiration, ideas and shared experience for start-ups.

Although U.S. based, the site does often contain the stories of UK and European organisations and individuals, and is nearly always relevant for new companies in the social sector too.

Recently published was an article on time management. An old skill well worth mastering of course, but the interesting slant given by was around the need to combat ‘time urgency’.

This struck a nerve with me.

Getting things done quickly, when in completely ‘focused’ mode other things begin to distract you – creating stress, physical discomfort and rising feelings of imminent disaster.

This may sound a little strong, but the drivers of small revenue engines, whatever the context of their work, will recognise the symptoms.

Limiting these feelings of time urgency will definitely enable you to work better – the end result is better quality personal output and a more efficient business.

The article refers to research that indicates social entrepreneurs often fall into the ‘Type A‘ personality category, fuelling bad habits and looped behaviour of driving yourself to achieve, yet the very process obstructing the successful completion of your goal.

Some theorists argue that  indicators of this type of behaviour can also have very negative effects on your health too. (Although Type A/B personality assessments are sometimes considered ‘pop’ psychology by some, the analysis can help in self assessment of behaviour or stress, I think).

I recently stopped a piece of work for an organisation, despite being highly worthy of support, because engagement was forcing me to step outside both my natural rhythms and to develop modalities of action outside my lived experience of social business development.

I am not sure whether that makes me an A or a B?

For me, better not to do it and move on to a new project, than to persist with increasing rafts of time urgency – to the benefit of both projects, new and old.

If you recognise yourself in this short piece, to cope with time urgency for the social entrepreneur often requires some very hard thinking and crisp action, but the benefits will be worth it.

You can read the full article here. Lower stress, better business – wherever you are.

If you have a time urgency solution or experience, let us know, and we’ll share it here with others.

(This post was written by Tim Smith).