Social Enterprises Continued

10 strategies to achieve sustainability

Anyone that's involved in or runs a third sector enterprise for say, three years or more will probably hit what we call "the ceiling of complexity". That's the point where we as third sector entrepreneurs know we could go further, but to do so would mean making some key changes to the way our organisation operates.

The problem is, it's not just hard to work out what changes are necessary, it's hard to even work out where to begin.

This is an extremely common problem for established private sector business owners and entrepreneurs let alone third sector entrepreneurs and our own form of governance.

And that's what this article is designed to help with; they will provide practical tips and strategies third sector entrepreneurs can immediately put to use to get their third sector enterprise growing whilst improving their lives and reducing the stress levels.

Strategy one: Develop a clear vision and direction.

To achieve increased focus on your goals and priorities you must develop a comprehensive road map to achieving them, (anyone who has been to our community development course will remember the mantra “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will do”) and it all starts with a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

Third sector Entrepreneurs with a clear, well-articulated picture of the future have a distinct advantage. Vision eliminates confusion because there's always a bigger, more exciting future that acts as a guiding light.

Envision what you want your service or organisation to look like and it will dictate the goals and improvements you need to establish and support that vision. At CAWF we try to refine that vision by establishing benchmarks and deadlines to ensure that you're always making progress towards achieving the bigger picture.

Third sector enterprises we work with often get very excited at the completion of this stage because it's often the first time they've had a clear and well-defined idea of exactly where they want to go. This in turn creates a strong sense of direction and confidence while eliminating cluttered thinking and confusion.

The key is to be clear on the specifics of your ultimate vision, your big picture. The next step is to begin eliminating what's standing in the way of reaching that vision. Which brings me to..........

Strategy two: Establishing a game plan to overcome obstacles

A dream will remain a dream without a concrete plan.

In fact, one of the biggest reasons third sector organisations feel they're not moving forward is because of the inability to define and tackle obstacles. Many people come to CAWF saying that they feel 'stuck'; they've got an idea of where they want to get to, but feel like they're spinning their wheels. Many of them aren’t doing badly, they’re just not growing or responding as quickly as they would like, and they don't know what to do about it.

They don't know how to get unstuck.

This can lead to incredible frustration, a tendency to run off in many directions, chasing different ideas down blind alleys, thus exacerbating this general mood of stagnation and paralysis.

But there's a way through this.

First of all, you need greater clarity on your vision, as per strategy one, and then you need to ask yourself the right questions. And the first big question is: What exactly is standing in your way? Simple...

By outlining the obstacles that are acting as stumbling blocks, you can achieve your goals using an implementation plan carried out by people with defined responsibilities, specific actions and deadlines.

This is how you begin to eliminate the obstacles blocking you from achieving your vision. What's more, you begin to realise that all those things you saw as obstacles, through working out how to overcome them, are actually the raw material needed to create a strategy to achieve your goals.

Of course developing this kind of a game plan requires time: which is where we'll pick up if you choose CAWF to support you through the WCC new voucher system for infrastructure support..