Life is like an iceberg…they don’t tell you this when you are young!
Blog by Helen Littlejohn
A journey to being a social Entrepreneur is hard, to shake up the status quo, to be different, to not be ‘normal’, as you see things that need changing. Sound like you?
So think about the journey of being a social entrepreneur like an iceberg or for me climbing a mountain, when you stand at the top you can see the amazing view – the great photo at the top, the success on launching your product! But like an iceberg people only see the tip above the water, what they don’t see is everything that is under the water or all the effort of getting to the top of the mountain. All the persistence, failure, sacrifice, disappointment, tears, late nights, self-doubt, dedication, frustrations, discipline and the amazing support network. But it is worth it!
My journey to become a Social Entrepreneur started a long time ago
When I was at secondary school, my father ran his own business from a bedroom in our house and I was always inspired by his dedication – he came from a working class background but had persisted in getting a degree, learnt many languages, travelled widely installing water purification plants in Africa and despite being made redundant a couple of times, started his own business. Unfortunately he died very suddenly in 1993 and despite my own knockbacks continued to be inspired by his drive. After being quite a shy child, my own journey took me from leading conservation and adventure travel holidays around the world, to organising school expeditions in the UK and abroad, stretching my boundaries many times. If you step outside your comfort zone and believe in yourself then anything is possible.
The last few years have not been all plain sailing personally and professionally
But I had been thinking about setting up my own enterprise for 18 months and last year the catalyst came when my brother died very suddenly in January, very unexpectedly. Going for a walk on a balmy summer’s evening last June with a friend – I explained my ideas and she said have you heard of the Inspiring Enterprise programme, run by Action Hampshire? I then contacted the office in Winchester and was delighted to be able to attend the programme, which included three workshops, covering all aspects of starting a social enterprise, as well as one-to-one mentoring. I was matched with Seb Mayfield, an amazing mentor who has encouraged me, coached me, providing a level headed sounding board to my worries and aspirations.
Going through the process of all the legalities just to get to the starting line is the hard bit, registering your business, building the website, setting up an email, accounts system, photos, marketing, the list goes on. This is where the Inspiring Enterprise programme can help and guide you; don’t do it on your own! But your vision needs to drive you on. Yes you will learn things that you never knew about yourself, meet kind-hearted generous people who will give their time to help you reach your goal, make connections that you never thought possible but only you can make it happen.