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It’s that time of the month again when we catch up with one of our very talented School for Social Entrepreneurs graduates. This month it’s Jonathan Beebee: registered nurse, qualified behaviour analyst and director of PBS4

What does your organisation do?
PBS4 provides personalised social care to adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour. We are also providing training and consultancy.

How is your business progressing? What are your key achievements/milestones to date?
We started trading in April 2015. We were told at the start we wouldn’t get referrals as we were not on local frameworks, we couldn’t join local frameworks as we hadn’t been trading for over 3 years, and the framework is locked for 3 years too. However, despite this we are currently supporting 5 people with very complex needs to live in their own home.
As a result of the business generated, PBS4 is now able to pay my wage without me doing extra work. We have managed to get our first office space, and have begun recruiting off rota staff to help with the business management.

What impact has the SSE had on you personally?
I have never set up a business before. It is a lonely and confusing experience. More than anything else I have valued the opportunity to meet other like-minded people who are in similar situations. I have found the course content excellent in supporting me to review what I have already done, and helping me identify things I hadn’t considered.

What have you learnt from the course?
I think this is an interesting question, as I don’t really see the course as a standard “chalk and talk” learning experience, so I don’t feel like I have been “taught”. However, the course has helped me to learn some valuable insights into what I need to do to make my business successful. Two of the key ways I would say the course has helped is by looking at the social business model canvas to help with the business strategy, and helping me to consider how to develop a board to support the business.

What challenges have you or your business faced and how have you overcome them?
The key challenges have been the joys of being a new business. We have grown fairly quickly but are still quite small. There are lots of juggling acts that need to be done around meeting the resource needs of our contracts. There are daily issues that pop up that we haven’t experienced before so don’t have a set answer. We are just going from this being something I was doing sat in my living room on my laptop, to what feels like a more credible and sustainable business.

What do you enjoy most about the SSE?
Networking; I really enjoy meeting people and hearing how they are doing.

Who is your social enterprise/business hero?
There is a man in the US called Gary LaVigna who I admire. He and his colleagues established the Institute for Applied Behaviour Analysis in Florida in the 1990s. They have done a lot of work on shaping support for people with learning disabilities, including promoting counter-intuitive and non-aversive responses to challenging situations. They provide consultancy, support for adults, support for children and support into employment. A lot of what we do at PBS4 is underpinned by their work and I hope we can similarly inspire others.
In the UK there is a company in Surrey called “Us in a Bus” and they are a mobile Intensive Interaction service. Intensive Interaction is a way of encouraging communication and engagement in people with learning disabilities who have limited known ways of interacting with others. I really admire their use of very creative and engaging ways of connecting with people.

How has Action Hampshire helped you?
I had an extremely useful meeting with Sue Dovey in one of her surgeries. I have never done something like “setting up a board” before, it is one of those things that seem mystifying and that only business experts would know about. Speaking with Sue I was able to review why I wanted a board. Being a Company Limited by Guarantee we don’t need a board but I want one to hold me to account and to be a critical friend to the business. Sue helped me review what skills I would want in the board, how I would set the terms of reference, and how the board would run. She also put me in touch with people locally who would be able to help and could possibly be invited as board members. I have now been able to get started on getting this established whereas before I was in a stalemate of not knowing what to do first.