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Sprout Summit: 5 Proven Ways to Grow Your Social Enterprise

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As a social entrepreneur, it’s vital that, in addition to developing and improving your current projects, you continue to nurture your own personal and professional development. The social enterprise sector is a welcoming community full of people working tirelessly to make a difference and they will always have a moment to lend a hand (or an ear) to help out and show the way for the next wave of emerging leaders. There has never been a more pressing need for social entrepreneurs who want to create positive impact and change in society by starting a social enterprise, charity, not-for-profit organisation or business with purpose. Sprout Summit 2017 provides an opportunity to learn from the experience of our presenters, who have all been where you are, and to connect with like-minded and highly-motivated peers. The tips below highlight how Sprout Summit 2017, and other sector events, will help you to develop your skills, form valuable relationships and re-ignite a passion for your purpose.

1. Keep up with new ideas

Conferences, summits and other industry events provide an opportunity to be exposed to new ideas and to have innovations explained by people who are actually putting them to work and understand their value. Presentations on both new or familiar topics can garner surprising insights and plug knowledge gaps that you didn’t know you had. At Sprout Summit 2017 you can learn how to “turn strategy on its head” through George Liacos’ four step process to designing a sustainable business model. Or you might take inspiration from Helen Barclay’s journey managing a business that utilises cutting-edge bio-tech in a way that is valuable for clients, but also serves society and the environment.

2. Never stop networking

Events provide an unparalleled opportunity to develop networks and foster new connections with those in the same fields and sectors, generating collaborative opportunities. Learning from your peers’ experiences and taking on their feedback is a great way to benchmark your own leadership knowledge and skills. In addition to building connections with other attendees, you will likely find that speakers provide advice on tried and tested avenues for support, or inspiration for new opportunities and connections. Ash Rosshandler has built two organisations that support connections between the not-for-profit sector, and corporations, as well as the wider community. The journey of creating this platform, which he will share at Sprout Summit 2017, provides inspiration for how to engage stakeholders in a way that is mutually beneficial.

3. It’s lonely at the top

The role of a Founder, or any leader, can be tough. Leaders are lauded for successes and blamed for failures. Attending an event aimed at leaders provides an opportunity to escape your silo, discuss challenges, and seek perspective and a new outlook. As a leader, you might not always have someone to give you honest and constructive feedback on your ideas and your performance, but your peers can do this. At Sprout Summit 2017 you’ll also hear from Morgan Koegel, the 25-year-old CEO of the rapidly-growing not-for-profit One Girl, who has used what could be perceived as a weakness for her organisation to create a point of difference and connect with stakeholders and supporters. And if that’s not enough, take heed of Warwick Peel’s advice and establish an advisory board that will provide mentorship from those who have been there before you.

4. Prepare for the future

Social entrepreneurs are responding to need in society and a call for change, but the market into which these new ventures are being formed is tougher than ever. Leaders of all types of businesses and organisations are recognising that they must be constantly adapting and leading for the unpredictable future. It’s not enough to have a great idea, you need the skills and knowledge to bring the idea to life in a form that is sustainable. Jay Boolkin has drawn from his network of hundreds of social entrepreneurs to distill four components that are most commonly identified as essential to the success of social entrepreneurs – these Sprout Summit insights are not to be missed!

5. Re-engage and re-energise

Take every opportunity to engage with this vibrant and enthusiastic sector and find inspiration in the great ideas and lessons of your peers. There are challenges along the way, but even failures can inform and inspire. Hearing the journey of other new organisations, such as how Rita Nehme of Steer North turned “a crazy idea into reality” will provide a boost to your spirits. And don’t forget that you can’t and shouldn’t go it alone. You will find support by building a top-notch team around you. Richard Evans will be joining us at Sprout Summit 2017 to cover practical measures for uncovering and retaining the right people, who will maximise the potential of your organisation.

The aim of Sprout Summit is to equip social entrepreneurs and change-makers with the practical tools, processes and insights to drive successful change and create positive impact in society. Sprout Summit is curated by the team at Better Boards who also organise the Better Boards Conference – Australasia’s largest governance and leadership conference for not-for-profit board members and chief executive officers. Join us in Melbourne on the 12th of October or stream live from wherever you are in the world. Full program information and registration here.

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