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Jun 6, 2016

Unleash your inner social entrepreneur

Unleash your inner social entrepreneur…..

Bring about positive change

We all have a budding entrepreneur inside of us. Admittedly, some people may be more ‘entrepreneurially’ gifted than others, and these people may go on to make their fortunes setting up successful businesses. However in this article I will share with you some top tips so that you can tap into your inner entrepreneur to bring about positive changes in your life. Let me caveat this statement though; as this doesn’t mean that implementing these top tips will buy you a fast track ticket to becoming the top honcho of a FTSE 100 company (although for some of you it just might; you never know!). More realistically it may help you to bring about some positive changes. Perhaps you will be able to think differently about a problem you are facing and find an alternative way forward; maybe you will discover opportunities in your community to learn something new; or perhaps you will finally take the plunge and set up that business you have always wanted to.

About my company

I have been an entrepreneur for 11 years now having set up Wellbeing Enterprises CIC back in 2005 when I was 23 years old. Wellbeing Enterprises specialises in providing community based interventions working with communities; to bring about improvements in health and wellbeing. Over this time we have supported more than 16,000 people to make demonstrable improvements in health and wellbeing outcomes. We are experts in developing volunteering schemes; educational courses and social action projects that are fully integrated with health and social care services. We are in the business of mobilising people power to bring about improvements in health and wellbeing. These approaches complement traditional, medical approaches, and importantly they are cost effective and have the potential to alleviate pressures placed on an already overstretched NHS and social care system. In October 2015 we were the proud recipients of the Health Service Journal (HSJ) Award for our trailblazing work with GP practices implementing community wellbeing approaches.

Tapping your latent potential

Central to our wellbeing work is our core value (and belief) that people and communities are the solution to many of the health and care challenges we face. Our view is that we need to tap into the latent potential in our communities, as well as mobilising the assets and resources that are available locally to bring about positive change.  In many respects, we see the entrepreneurial potential of people in our community. So much so that our most recent community initiatives have seen us resource local people who have ideas to tackle the most pressing health challenges that the community face. We have offered ‘try it’, ‘do it’ or ‘build it’ awards ranging in value from £500 to £5000, along with specialist support to help entrepreneurial minded people in our community get their ideas off of the ground.

As one might expect, there is an extraordinary amount of latent potential in the community as evidenced by the demand for our cash awards and support. We welcomed applications from street cleaning environmentalists; disability rights activists and people who wanted to launch pop up cafes for people with food allergies as well as veteran recovery projects and singing clubs to name but a few. This year we decided to sponsor a new ‘social enterprise’ Chamber of Commerce business award in recognition of the extraordinary contribution everyday people are making to the health and wellbeing of their community.

But have you ever wondered why it is that some people seem willing to take the plunge and have a go at developing their ideas beyond the dream stage? What is it that separates the dreamers from the doers? Are there differences in the ways that entrepreneurial minded people think that sets them apart?

Well, in short the answer is yes. And if you read on I will share with you some examples of the thinking strategies they employ. Furthermore, by developing these insights you too can have a go at putting them into practice to bring about positive outcomes in your life…


If the world gives you lemons…

Dr. Saras Sarasvathy (2001) developed a theory of effectuation to describe the way in which entrepreneurs think about the world around them in order to get the early stages of a business venture off of the ground. These thinking techniques help entrepreneurs to utilise the resources at their disposal to bring about positive outcomes. These are detailed below and have some wonderfully fanciful names:


  1. Bird in hand

Entrepreneurs start with their means; what they know; who they are; and who they know… They use these as the basis for shaping their business ideas.

  1. Affordable loss

They ask themselves; “what am I prepared to lose when setting up my venture?”. This is an effective way of managing risk and helps prevent them from investing too much and more than they can afford.

  1. Lemonade

Entrepreneurs invite the surprise factor… They see the twists and turns of life as clues to better understanding the market they are looking to penetrate… If the world gives you lemons unexpectedly… then make lemonade as the saying goes….

  1. Patchwork quilt

Successful entrepreneurs build strong networks with key partners and co-create opportunities with them… Working together with others de-risks the business start-up process.

  1. Pilot in plane

Entrepreneurs tend to operate from the world view that ‘what I think about I bring about’… They try to shape their destinies by focusing on activities that are within their control.

I should point out that these thinking strategies are not completely fail-safe of course. Many new ventures fail in the early stages and for many different reasons. However, many entrepreneurs will engage in these thinking approaches in the early stages of their ventures to help them navigate their way through an unpredictable and uncertain future.

I would argue that these thinking approaches can also be helpful in our everyday life when we want to bring about positive change and I would encourage people to have a go at trying them. So go on, have a go at trying the five principles of effectuation when you want to try your hand at something new. You never know you may just surprise yourself!

By Mark Swift    Twitter: @Mark_Sw1ft

Founder & CEO Wellbeing Enterprises CIC




Sarasvathy, S.D. (2001) Causation and effectuation: Towards a theoretical shift from economic inevitability to entrepreneurial contingency. Academy of Management Review, 26(2), 243-288.

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