An A – Z of social entrepreneurship: T – V

T – Teamwork

 Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford

Entrepreneurs are traditionally portrayed as young, individualistic, passion-fuelled go-getters – and social entrepreneurs are also increasingly stereotyped in this way (too much in my opinion). In reality, of course, their success most often depends on teams and networks – often unrecognised publicly in the rush for the next big idea or public award.

U – USP

What is it that sets your social venture apart from others – your unique selling point? Your USP should attract attention for the best reasons and leave a lasting impression. It doesn’t need to be literally unique of course.

Nearly 15 years ago – in the days before Starbucks and Costa – a community cafe in Market Rasen invested £2000 in an Italian coffee machine – a lot of money at the time. Great coffee became their USP in relation to other cafes – not just in the town but across Lincolnshire. The cafe survives today (I haven’t recently tasted their coffee).

 V – Values

Your USP may be your values – what you stand for beyond providing a quality product or service. Some years ago, research by Community Links in London found that most organisations could help themselves by being much more upfront about their values – even to the extent of displaying them on website home pages and in other prominent places.

For organisations with a particularly strong value-base, they also suggested this could differentiate one bidder from another in contract negotiations. Even in our increasingly cash-strapped economy values are still important; reference the Social Value Act and the rush by mainstream businesses to portray themselves as ‘social’.

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