Social Change Champion: Monica Davidson
Monica Davidson is an award-winning expert in the creative industries, who began her professional life as a freelance journalist and filmmaker. Her own experience highlighted how unprepared creative people can be for a life of entrepreneurship.
After 20 years of informally helping others to develop their creative businesses, Monica founded the social enterprise Creative Plus Business Group in 2015. The organisation is dedicated to educating creative people and small to medium arts organisations about business skills. This includes providing personalised advice, mentoring, educational programs, online support, resources, strategic and business modelling and planning, and consultancy services to the creative industries.
Monica is the Australian author of Freelancing for Dummies, and a renowned teacher and speaker. In 2014 she completed her Master degree in Screen Arts and Business at AFTRS, was appointed as the first NSW Creative Industries Business Advisor, and was named as one of the Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence for her work in the creative industries. In 2019 Monica was awarded the inaugural Creative Trailblazer Award at the QUT Creative Enterprise Australia awards, recognition for “an individual who creates enterprises and opportunities and who advocates, mentors, donates, educates and advises within Australia’s creative economy.”
Here’s what Monica has to say about her social enterprise and the state of social enterprise in Australia:
What is your social enterprise elevator pitch?
Creative Plus Business is a social enterprise dedicated the educating creative practitioners about small business skills.
What are your biggest personal and/or professional challenges as a social entrepreneur in Australia?
Funding and commercial innovation are our biggest challenges. We are focussed on helping creative practitioners and small arts organisations, and they don’t always have a lot of money to spare, so making our products and services affordable (or free) for them while staying in business ourselves is tough going sometimes!
What’s the best piece of advice you have received so far since starting your own social enterprise?
Measure everything! Data is your friend. Make sure you take a baseline measurement of any program or project that you put in place, and then measure what impact and outcomes it has. This is especially true for us because we want to demonstrate that our work helps people in a way that’s practical for them, and impactful for the creative economy.
If you were to start over, is there anything you would do differently?
I’m a fan of learning on the job, but I would have done more research into demonstrating that social enterprise is a form of business that can be trusted. Stakeholders are still so confused by this, since it’s not a formally recognised entity (yet).
Where do you see the future of social enterprise in Australia?
This is just the beginning. If social enterprise could become a legally recognised entity, with some sort of vetting process like not-for-profits, a lot more innovative organisations and entrepreneurs would see the benefit of being a social enterprise.
What appeals to you most about Social Change Central?
I love that it’s a centralised source of information on such a diverse topic, and I’m especially enjoying that someone else is finding opportunities and finding potential for us!
The Social Change Central changemaker community is growing at a fast rate. How can our members learn more about you and help support your organisation?
We’re looking for people to help spread the word about what we do – and partner with us – so that we can help more freelancers, arts entrepreneurs and organisations to be creative, make money and love their work.
And finally, what would you do if you found a lottery ticket that ended up winning $10 million?
I would create a trust that would allow me to continue doing this sort of work, without the constant driving for funds – and buy myself (and my loved ones) a lovely little house somewhere fabulous. And some pink champagne to celebrate!