Back to school

40 years after leaving secondary education with 2 ‘A’ levels (A for average in my case) I’m back at school – the School for Social Entrepreneurs in Ipswich. After an application process which included a written outline of my social enterprise idea, followed by 2 and 5 minute pitches (2 weeks apart) I’ve been awarded a place on the (big breath…) 12-month Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs start-up course.

I’ve been advising others on social enterprise development (even got a qualification in it) for 14 years, so how will I feel being advised by others on how to turn my own social enterprise idea – The Repair Shed – into something more concrete and, hopefully, into a sustainable business?

East Herts busy hubI learn a lot from books and other written materials (and there’s lots of great stuff on social enterprise online) but I’m also a great believer in group learning and the value of peer support. And learning from others who’ve been there and done it already – the social enterprise sector in the East of England is great at sharing failures as well as successes.

So am I about to practise what I’ve been preaching for more than a decade? Probably not!

For example, I’ve always advised caution when planning a new enterprise. “Assume it will take twice as long as you think it will, cost twice as much, and generate half the income” I tell people. But even at this early stage, I already feel I may not take the softly, softly approach.

Like most deluded newbies, I have the unshakeable belief that my idea will work, and work well enough to be replicated after a ridiculously short time. It won’t turn out like that of course, but maybe the fact that I’m aware of my wild optimism is a good sign of a reflective attitude?

Over the come months I’ll be mapping my ups and down as I try to walk the talk. If you want to find out where The Repair Shed journey takes me, you can follow my blog here.


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