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8 lessons from the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington & Area’s experience developing a new social enterprise – Part 2

8 lessons from the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington & Area’s experience developing a new social enterprise – Part 2

8 lessons from the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington & Area’s experience developing a new social enterprise – Part 2

Last month, I published Part 1 of my conversation with Dave Stam from the John Howard Society of Hamilton, Burlington & Area. Part 2 continues the discussion regarding the implementation of their business plan, developed with funding support through Innoweave’s Social Enterprise module. Click here for Part 1 of the conversation.

Lesson 5: Spend the time to develop a solid business plan

Princess: What would you say worked well, did not work as good as you expected and what would you change looking back at your journey.

Dave: We feel our business plan was solid. As mentioned earlier the transitional thinking about our target market and clientele was a breakthrough for the team. This helped us understand the competitive landscape and reposition perceived competitors from threats, to partners and clients, and most importantly allowed us to pivot our business model throughout the entire process.

With respect to what did not work well is that there is generally an underestimation of what it takes to successfully implement a business plan, from a time perspective. We also found that it was important to build and strengthen our skill set to address the multiple client base and target markets.

With reference to our journey, we are happy with our progress with the limited funding and resources we have been able to allocate to the launch of our social enterprise. Additional funding would not have necessarily improved our business model in that we had full cross-functional organizational involvement to develop our social enterprise. Our major funding requirement is to support the roll-out of our plan. This we are currently pursuing. Reflecting back, I can’t think of anything that I would have changed.

Lesson 6: Pick the right champion(s) to lead the enterprise

Princess: What advice would you give to other not-for-profit organizations looking to start a social enterprise?

Dave: My advice would be to look outside the box for the funding of services that are needed for the community. Also that it is important to have a champion or several champions within the organization with the capacity to transition from not- for-profit organizational management to entrepreneurial thinking. Picking the right champion to lead the enterprise is important for sustainable success and being open to new innovative thinking and approaches.

Lesson 7: Seek external help to supplement internal resources

Princess: You mentioned the importance of seeking external help and support to fill gaps within the organization. How has coaching helped the process?

Dave: Our coach was largely responsible for our current success. The coaching support helped us to understand the gaps in our expertise that was necessary to develop and implement our social enterprise. As you know, it was helpful that you readily filled in the key gaps. Many of the templates, concepts and resources can be downloaded from internet sources however, where our coach proved invaluable is the area of mentoring and advising as to how to effectively implement and move from plan to action. Also, substantive iterative dialogue was necessary to shift from “program funded thinking” to that of running a business.

Lesson 8: There will be challenges, be persistent and never give up

Princess: My very last question is that you mentioned the challenges associated with implementing the CCR&P, what keeps you going each time you run into roadblocks?

Dave: This might be surprising, however my social services background provides the drive necessary for me to lead this enterprise. Barriers and challenges are a normal part of my day as they are natural part of social service management and delivery. The benefit to the social impact of our enterprise is so strong that it keeps me going.

Princess Alexander is a Growth Strategist and Business Coach. She is the President of Jacana Strategies, a strategy management practice assisting organizations with innovation, growth and sustainability. She can be reached at soar@alexanderlearmond.com.

Dave Stam, is the Project Lead of CCR&P and a 25-year veteran of youth and community intervention and prevention services programs, a restorative practice expert, and part-time lecturer.

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