As a teenager, lots of my friends got up incredibly early to do paper rounds. It didn’t matter whether there was driving rain, deep snow or it was a warm summer morning, they would cycle to collect the newspapers and deliver them.
While I love getting up early now, getting out of bed at that time didn’t appeal to a young Matt Bird! So, the idea of making money delivering newspapers was out of the question.
My dad used to work for a large chocolate manufacturer. And one advantage was that workers could buy chocolates from a staff shop. Once a week, Dad brought lovely sweet treats home. I asked one day whether he would buy me a whole box of chocolates – and he did!
I took that first box to school and opened it at break time. As I carefully removed the chocolate bar from of my bag, lots of other children swarmed around me asking where I’d bought the box from. They all asked if they could have some. Within 5 minutes I had sold them all!
From then on, every break time, I would go to school with chocolates. I paid 4p a bar and sold them at 10p bar, which is a nice mark-up. That was my first experience of enterprise.
I mentioned last week that we need a gift of enterprise to break out right now. And as a result, a new campaign is being launched to encourage The Spirit of Enterprise. It is the glue that holds society together and is going to be desperately needed as the fall-out from the pandemic increases.
People will be made redundant and will, no doubt, struggle to feel true worth as jobs become scarce.
There are 3 areas we need to consider to rediscover The Spirit of Enterprise.
1. Enterprise is about transformation not transaction
All too often, business is seen as a way of simply making a living or to earn enough to be generous to others. In reality, being able to work lifts someone’s dignity. It isn’t a transaction where we work to live, but is an act of transformation in society.
Social enterprise has proved to be a major success if you look at history. The founders behind companies such as Fry’s, Cadbury, Clarks and Lloyds Bank began as social enterprises. They did not just offer money in exchange for work, they paid fair wages to help those in slums improve their well-being.
Clarks and Cadbury built houses with affordable rents so that their workforce could move to a comfortable home, which massively increased their dignity. They transformed individual lives and the way to do business.
2. Enterprise is about innovation rather than invention
You may be thinking that you haven’t got a world-changing invention that will radically change lives. As a result, you have written yourself off as ever being an entrepreneur! But enterprise is mostly about innovation, rather than invention.
Most enterprise isn’t about an undiscovered gadget or service. It is a bit of a myth, in fact, as the majority of people in business are not inventors, but innovators. They take something already in existence then develop, improve and tweak it before presenting it to the market as a new product.
I would argue that 5-10% improvement in any product or service is basically creating something new. Don’t that you need to be an inventor to become an entrepreneur, take something that already exits and make it 5-10% better.
3. Soulmates rather than going solo
I have tried doing business on my own, but it can be very difficult without having someone to bounce ideas off. It’s also a bit of an isolating experience, which can leave you feeling demotivated. Having a business partner you trust deeply, however, will transform how you do business.
None of us have all the skills, experience and expertise that we need to be an entrepreneur alone. We need soulmates and work together as a team to build a business.
What we need now is economic empowerment and I firmly believe the 3 points I have made show that it is not impossible. We are guilty of forming a view of what an enterprising entrepreneur looks like. And if we don’t match these misguided theories, we believe we can’t make a difference.
Well, I am here to tell you that you can. Why not contact me to tell me about your social enterprise. I’d love to help you on the road to success.