Social Enterprise Spotlight – the Wishing Tree
In our latest Social Enterprise Spotlight is Ross Dundas and The Wishing Tree, Scotland’s peer to peer business support network, designed to provide support to entrepreneurs throughout the country, regardless of their background or personal circumstances. Get in contact with Ross at email@example.com and check out www.thewishingtree.org.uk. Connect with them on Twitter and Facebook too.
Every few weeks we focus on a randomly selected social enterprise member for intense marketing support and promotion. The Wishing Tree will feature in all e-bulletins, on our website homepage and on all our social media, alongside other support, reaching thousands of people across Scotland and beyond. Want to star in the Spotlight? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
What’s your social and/or environmental mission? The Wishing Tree is committed to enabling entrepreneurship for all, regardless of personal circumstance or where in Scotland you are born. We’re committed to building a fairer economy for Scotland that works for the many and not just the few.
How do you do it? We deliver networking opportunities, our social network: Wishing Tree: Connect, training services and peer to peer business support groups. Members pay a monthly membership fee which is reinvested in delivering more services and supporting people to build their vision to drive innovation forward in Scotland.
What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? I’m very legacy as opposed to money motivated as an entrepreneur, I want my work and life to mean something. With each positive outcome I deliver, I move that one step closer to the Wishing Tree achieving its long term goals and securing that legacy. That might sound arrogant but we only get one life to make a difference for good or ill. I’m determined to make the most of it.
What are your current projects? The Wishing Tree has many active projects to support entrepreneurs which are at various stages. The issue is all about resourcing on that front. Recruiting and retaining volunteers is always difficult as a startup social enterprise. Currently we’re focusing on delivering our core events and support programmes which are delivered as part of our membership package.
What exciting things do you have coming up? We’ve delivered the first soft skills course for entrepreneurship in Scotland. The number one reason businesses fail is their owners giving up because they are not well prepared for the personal challenges that being an entrepreneur brings. We’re excited to continue delivering these courses. In addition we’ve been nominated by our local Third Sector Interface at their annual awards in the emerging social enterprise category. We’re crossing our fingers!
Who do you want to work with more? Definitely more established businesses coming on board as members. The more company wide memberships we have the greater social impact we can deliver. Being based in Aberdeen in the middle of the oil crash has been a bit of a double edged sword. There are more startups as people consider it on the back of redundancy but more established businesses are split in terms of investing in marketing channels such as ours.
What’s your biggest challenge? Without a doubt marketing and recruitment. It is very difficult these days to get traction when you are a startup when there are so many demands on peoples attention in this digitally connected world, which is moving at such a rapid pace. The other challenge has been recruiting and retaining high quality volunteers. I think though that I have a significant role to play in addressing these issues however by inspiring people to believe in our mission which in turn will ultimately resolve these two challenges.
What top tip would you give to other social enterprises? Build a viable business, plan well but don’t be caught up in analysis paralysis. Get yourself trading ready as soon as possible and put your customers at the heart of what you do. If you become dependent on grants and loans it can be a recipe for disaster.