By Graham Lindsay Monday, 16 September 2013

How to make business better

Lots of people have business ideas to make the world a better place - but very few actually do it, argues Lloyds Banking Group's Graham Lindsay.

Lloyds Bank and the Bank of Scotland announced the shortlist for the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award today. What struck me about it is that although many of us would like the world to be a better place and some of us have ideas about how we could help make that happen; very few of us make a start. Here are my tips to achieving the energy, drive and passion to become a social entrepreneur.

Look inside

As all our entrepreneurs are testament to, the solutions to the challenges we face can often be found inside us, if we only take the time to find out. Explore your ideas on paper or get someone to help you talk them through. Martin Hogg took this premise and turned it into a business; Citizen’s Coaching, one of our shortlisted enterprises, provides powerful online and live coaching and counselling for the community in issues such as anger management.

See a business through caring eyes

Consider what profitable businesses there are, providing something customers want but perhaps excluding others in need. Could this provide your opportunity? A pub provides its clientele with somewhere to eat, drink, and socialise. Jacquie Johnston-Lynch considered it from the point of view of recovering alcoholics and set up The Brink, a bar with no booze, proving community, connection and care.

Trash could be treasure

Some social businesses have identified a source of waste and repurposed or diverted it for use in the community. This has benefits for the planet – reducing landfill – and provides an inexpensive or even free product to sell. Ellen Petts of Greenstream CIC recycles discarded carpet tiles providing low cost flooring to low-income families and small businesses.

Powerful partnerships

Successful entrepreneurs harness partnerships to bring skills, expertise or knowledge to their business. Our whole programme demonstrates how working together means we can achieve much more. Tom Ravencroft’s Enabling Enterprise programme brings top business into the school timetable, resulting in an increase in children’s aspirations and business skills.

Look for maximum impact

To ensure your efforts reap maximum rewards get to the root of the problem or find a common goal that unites people. Tracy Murdoch wanted to bring communities together and identified children as the route to social cohesion. Her company Kidzeco helps families through a range of affordable and accessible products and services; and as the children grow, the benefits to the community grow, and the enterprise grows with them.

- Graham Lindsay is group director, responsible business at Lloyds Banking Group To vote for one of the five Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award finalists, visit: www.the-sse.org/SEYA.

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