Reflections on February – it was a mixed bag


March 16, 2023

I was so looking forward to February 2023 it felt as though I was emerging from the winter fog of post-Christmas blues and a remarkably busy January (unusually so for the BEC). I had lots of plans for February I was going to get back to blog writing, which I find both enjoy and find very therapeutic, big fail there that didn’t happen. In fact, it is now the middle of March, and I am just reviving my flow.

I was particularly looking forward to the Workspace Design Show, I was booked to speak on the panel on 27th February which happened to be the BEC’s 7th birthday but alas I came down with the flu and that put paid to that.

I was looking forward to being on the panel because I had not done something like that since before the pandemic so back in 2019. I managed the podcast the week before but was looking forward to hearing and learning from interesting peers in the field of workspace and hearing about their experiences. Alas it did not happen; I am assured there will be other opportunities and I am looking forward to them.

The coworking community is relatively new to us at the BEC and we have been on a learning journey that is for sure; we have found the whole community incredibly supportive and welcoming so that has been a great experience.

I was excited to write the blog about our 7th birthday but that didn’t happen either because I felt so grotty for a week.  However, I still feel that this is something we need to shout about, as the myth about social enterprises still continues today. There is no legal format for a ‘social enterprise’ I spend a lot of time explaining to people it must be a something, either a Community Interest Company or another structure.

Here are the top five myths about social enterprise

  1. Social enterprises are not-for-profit.

WRONG! ‘Not for profit’ is a tricky phrase. Most social enterprises are ‘for profit’ but they dedicate their profits to achieving a good cause or supporting their business outcomes. Our small profits fund business support and mentoring.

2.  Social entrepreneurs can’t run a real business

WRONG! Most social entrepreneurs come from successful business backgrounds. Social entrepreneurs are just like other entrepreneurs – some will succeed, some will change track and some businesses will fail. Most social entrepreneurs we meet are acutely aware of the need for their business to succeed so they can tackle the social issue that they are enthusiastic about.

3.Social enterprises rely on grants

WRONG! The whole point of being a social enterprise is that you trade to achieve a compelling cause. This means selling goods, services and products. Many social enterprises do access grants to help with start-up or with certain projects. My advice is that a social enterprise should aim to use a grant as an investment with a view to developing an income generating idea once the grant runs out.

4. Social enterprises are automatically more sustainable

WRONG! Social enterprises will only succeed if they can sell their services and products to customers. Many charities have survived for decades by relying on grants. That said, being dependent on grants can be challenging and developing successful, socially enterprising income streams can improve sustainability. Social enterprise should not be seen as a panacea – you need a strong business model, excellent market insight and an ability to deliver what customers want and need. Much like a ‘standard’ business really.

5. Social enterprises are not scalable

WRONG! Social enterprises are no different to ‘standard’ businesses in this regard. If you have an excellent product or service, a talented team, the ambition, the drive, resolve and a clear plan for scaling there is no reason you cannot significantly scale your business.

Lastly it would be remiss not to talk about some of the BEC’s seven-year successes.

  • From one building to three
  • Supporting 498 start-ups in seven years
  • 5215 hours of business mentoring with Industry Experts (free)
  • 5863 hours of training and events for businesses all free!!
  • 98% occupancy even during covid!
  • London Living Wage accredited only one of 64 CICs in London!

If you want to find out more about how we can help, then please look at our website.