Business Development

Social entrepreneurs struggling to balance growth with staff capacity

Hannah Wilkinson | 22 June 2016 | 8 years ago

social enterprise
Social entrepreneurs struggle to balance competing goals
Almost 60 per cent of social enterprise leaders find it difficult to balance ambitious expansion plans with employee capacity, according to new research carried out by social enterprise organisation CAN.

Finance worries were also high on the list of issues keeping social entrepreneurs awake at night, with 71 per cent losing sleep over cash flow woes.

For the smallest social enterprises those with a turnover of under 100, 000 72 per cent of owners were concerned about sustainable growth, while 55 per cent of all owners have struggled to access traditional finance.

The research also highlighted the difficulties that the owners of small organisations with big missions have accessing support and advice, with over half unsure who to ask for help.

it’s not surprising to see the lack of support in terms of finance and business strategy expressed by the social sector, said CAN chief executive Andrew Croft.

while some organisations in our sector are thriving, there is still a vacuum, where many are struggling to meet their social objectives while still achieving significant financial and organisational growth. Business advisory support needs to be better, and we need more new, innovative funding streams from social investors and trust and foundations, he added.

Additional research published by Santander in 2015 revealed that despite the challenges faced by owners, the social business sector of the UK is booming and full of entrepreneurship.

The study revealed that more than one-third of UK social enterprises are less than three years old, compared to 11 per cent of all SMEs and over half of owners are seeing revenue growth each year.

Some 84 per cent of the firms considered were micro businesses, with one-in-ten operating as one-person organisations. Those small firm owners who do have staff were leading the way on a number of human resources issues, with the majority seeking to employ individuals facing labour market disadvantages, and over 90 per cent involving staff in company decision-making.

‘social enterprises are transforming the way business is done and this survey shows a sector that is diverse, innovative and growing, said Santander Business Banking managing director Robin Foale.

For inspiration from an inspiring social entrepreneur, have a read of our recent interview with Miss Macaroon founder Rosie Ginday.

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