Paul is an experienced social entrepreneur who has played a leading role in the creation of two private businesses and three social enterprises in the valleys of South Wales, more precisely the Rhondda Valley. In addition he can include the creation Wales' first Social Enterprise Business Incubator as one of his many achievements. Following years of leading a successful training business he had a vision of a social enterprise business incubator that over 2011 - 2012 has seen the creation of 11 new businesses, 15 new jobs and helped secured over £250,000 investment in the area.
Paul was born in Tonypandy in the early fifties and gained his early education at Tonypandy Grammar School, Aberystwyth University and Kingston-upon-Thames Polytechnic. His first employment was as a computer programmer with Avon Cosmetics before taking the role of programmer / systems analyst with Akzo Pharma and Informatics working respectively in the Netherlands and New York State.
He returned to the Rhondda in the early eighties and after a short spell as a Casual Assistant Social Worker he became an Information Technology Tutor teaching unemployed young people on government training programmes in the use of personal computers. Paul saw the social value in this work and in 1984 set up a private training company, Village Computers, to extend the impact of this work. With changes in government policy this venture closed and Paul took up employment positions with two other larger training concerns. Both these companies eventually became victims of changing government policy and in 1995 Paul, along with Eirwen Mathias, set up a community enterprise. This company was the Telecentre And Business School Ltd (TABS) and is the company Paul still works for today.
During the time he has managed TABS Paul has become passionate about the value social enterprise in developing people and communities as part of the wider regeneration agenda. He sees social enterprise as a better way to do business. Paul is an innovator and has led the TABS organisation into the delivery of a vast array of service delivery from traditional skills and vocational training, to computer recycling, media production, retailing and manufacturing. All ventures are driven by the social mission of helping people into employment and his latest innovation has been to establish the first social enterprise business incubator in Wales for which the company was awarded the title of Most Innovative Social Enterprise 2010 and for which he gained the winner's award from Leading Wales of Leadership in Social Enterprise 2012. Over the two years of delivery Paul has helped established many new social and private business, created many new jobs and attracted hundreds of thousands pounds of investment.
Paul is a very hands-on person and to this day delivers workshops in ICT, project management, social enterprise and community development. He is a qualified assessor and internal verifier for QCF qualifications and undertakes research, consultancy and mentoring on a regular basis. He is a lifelong learner and recently gained a Masters in Community Regeneration from the University of Glamorgan and is currently a delegate on the Lead Wales Management programme. Introduction to the book
I have written this book because I believe passionately in the social enterprise way of doing business. I am not going to preach on about a capitalism system where resources are invested in the few who then largely use people to make them more money - I'll leave that for you to reflect on. However I am more interested in a system where people control the use of resources for the benefit of all.
Business is important to any economy. For me social enterprise is a better way of doing business. Businesses which are simply focused on the financial bottom line are of no interest to me. Living a life just to accumulate money to me would be a sad way to live. Having said that my eighteen years of running a social enterprise has left me a pauper! So please right from this early stage make sure that you pay due attention to the money your social enterprise makes - and try to make a lot of it! Social enterprise is not a cheap alternative to private business. Social enterprise needs to attracted passionate, committed, talented people and these people need to be rewarded well.
Social enterprise has two other bottom lines to consider. They must have clear social objectives. To some this is often regarded as a fuzzy concept but on a simple level it refers to the interaction of living entities with other living entities often irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary. So in human terms a social objective is doing something good for people and sometimes doing it for them whether they like or not! An example might be the government insisting that unemployed people attend training with a view to helping them into work. A good thing most of us would think but not always welcomed by the occasional unemployed person. The final bottom line relates to environmental well being. Traditional forms of business have a history of environmental disinterest in the drive to make money. I am old enough to remember greens being considered crazies and to have seen the world in just my lifetime teetering on the tipping point. It may well be too late but it seems only right that we as individuals and business leaders attempt to treat the natural resources the world offers us in a more caring manner.
Social enterprises should also have clear environmental objectives. A simple example might be to recycle paper and computers. All of this relates to the concept of the Triple Bottom Line more of which will be said in Chapter One.
Social enterprise is about change. It is about doing things in a better way. It is people doing good things for other people.
So the purpose of the book is to help and encourage people to start social enterprises. I want to see a world teeming with social enterprises and social entrepreneurs. Ashoka Fellows, a leading organisation consisting of social entrepreneurs, state that 'the greatest force for change in the modern world is a good idea in the hands of a leading social entrepreneur'. The world needs changing so like the Ashoka Fellows I believe we need more good ideas and more social entrepreneurs to action them. In my experience being in the company of social entrepreneurs is an exciting place to be as in most cases they are at least very interesting people but generally their passion, optimism and drive take the experience to a far higher level than just that. Any casual analysis of social entrepreneurs would demonstrate that they are great thinkers, innovators and often talkers! I often muse on an appropriate collective noun for these people. As a contribution to this debate I offer to suggestions. The first is based on the fact that in many cases a social enterprise is accountable to a defined community, hence perhaps an appropriate noun would be a collective of social entrepreneurs. Alternatively, and rather more fanciful, it could relate to an attribute in all social entrepreneurs, and hence I suggest an appropriate collective noun might me a passion of social entrepreneurs. I will now let you readers find a solution to this debate.
A large part of my working life has been spent helping people maximise their potential, as both a trainer and manager of a training organisation. Over the last eight years I have concentrated on helping people start up new businesses, particularly social business, and have established the first social enterprise business incubator in Wales. A business incubator is defined as a selective, intensive and time limited support for business development. In this role I have met many people with business ideas and the first step is often to discuss if the idea is worth investing the time required to complete a Business Plan. Some business advisors, which I am not, simply advise people to do the Business Plan and see what it looks like. I have seen millions of pounds and huge amounts of man hours spend over the last twelve years in Wales alone in the production of Business Plans. The number of business plans produced for social enterprises over the period could paper the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff - but where are the businesses?
I have therefore devised a tool which I think informs the decision on whether it is a good idea to construct a Business Plan. Many of you might have come across the Business Model Canvas. This is a strategic management template for developing new or growing existing business models. It is a visual chart with elements describing a firm's value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances. The Business Model Canvas was initially proposed by Alexander Osterwalder based on his earlier work on Business Model Ontology. This is a very useful tool for private sector businesses to make use of.
However my experience of running a social enterprise since 1994 and of supporting many people since 2006 in setting up social enterprises have led me to believe that there are significant differences in the private and social business models. To this end I have devise the Social Enterprise Blueprint, the focus of this book.
The Social Enterprise Blueprint is a framework for outlining the key components of any particular social enterprise business model. It is a tool I always use with new clients as we discuss whether the business has legs, whether it looks as if it will make money on a long-term basis. From my point of view it helps me to select the clients I want to work with and from the client's point of view it can help them to decide if they want to take the idea further and invest the time and effort into constructing a Business Plan. This book is written in the hope that many people will get involved in starting new social enterprises. It aims to help people consider their business idea reasonably quickly and to then decide if they are backing a winner.
I can normally complete the Social Enterprise Blueprint in a couple of hours where I am able to meet face-to-face with the client. This book takes my place and therefore the process will take longer as you follow the advice it offers. I hope that you find the tool useful and more importantly I hope you start a new social business and can I wish you all the very best in your endeavors.
Finally my aim is to make the book readable, easily understandable and interesting. In some ways business is very simple. You develop a fantastic product or service, you make sure that there is a market for it and you keep an eye on the finances. On the other hand it can become extremely complex as you play around with terms such as strategic management, human resources management, capitalisation and other management speak. Take for example the sentence '"The strategic aim is to standardise the infrastructures to drive down operating costs through supply based consolidation and leveraging group spend as well as exploiting best-in-class technologies and practices to provide robust, scalable and agile services with excellent customer experience." I'll let you sort that one out.
I could write a book in management speak and investigate each element to within an inch of its life, however I am not going to do that. I will be discussing the term 'business vision' and could easily write a book entitled the Construction of Vision Statements for Social Enterprise. However I am not going to do that, at least not yet! I am going to keep things simple and get to the point. My advice to all of you is that as the business grows and as your needs become more sophisticated and apparent then make the changes that you see are needed. Cross the bridges as you come to them.
Every time I work with the social enterprise blueprint and every day while writing this book new ideas are generated which I believe improve its use. therefore I know that those of you who read and use this book will have ideas which could improve it. If so I ask that you make your comments in a way that I can access them them and incorporate them into further editions so that the tool offers more benefit to future readers and social entreprenurs.
To end on a cheesy note those of you who work through this book, and start your own social business, you are beginning a journey which often has no end. Certainly you will not know what the end looks like, nor is that important or your goal. The joy is in the journey so the most important thing to know about social enterprise is that it is fun - so enjoy!