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On the Beanbag #2 – Craig Dearden-Phillips

Following on from our first interview with Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa of Catch 22, next on the beanbag is another social enterprise ambassador, Craig Dearden-Phillips. Craig is best known as the founder and former Chief Executive of the advocacy charity, Speaking Up, as well as being the author of an exceptionally good practical guide to starting a social enterprise. Having left his day-to-day role at Speaking Up following its merger with Advocacy Partners, Craig is now taking up the challenge of helping public sector workers ‘spin-out’ their services into new social enterprises with his new business, Stepping Out.

On the Beanbag #2:

Name: Craig Dearden-Phillips

Social Enterprise’s Name: My new business is called Stepping Out

Website: We don’t have one just yet

Where are you based?: Bury St Edmunds, deepest Suffolk!

What is your annual turnover?: Nil – but about to win first five figure order

How many staff do you employ?: None –  I am working unpaid too

Define ‘social enterprise’ in 50 words or less: `Doing business with an equitable balance between profit and social/environmental outcomes.’

What does you social enterprise do? I don’t fit the official definition but I help to create social enterprises out of parts of the public sector.

Who is your social enterprise for? For everyone who wants or needs better public services

Why did you start your social enterprise? Because I believe with my whole heart that public services can be delivered better, faster and cheaper by social enterprises.

How did you start your social enterprise? Out of my head, in my spare room (where all the great businesses begin)

What is your social enterprise’s greatest achievement? Hopefully winning its first contract in September!

What do you hope will be your social enterprise’s greatest achievement? Changing the public sector forever.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as social entrepreneur? Employing people who just want a job

How do you measure your social impact? By what I see

Why did you start a social enterprise and not a charity? Because I am not doing something charitable

How is your social enterprise a bit like The Big Issue or The Eden Project? Not at all

What’s the best thing about being a social entrepreneur? The freedom to be about more than just a profit

What’s the worst thing about being a social entrepreneur? People thinking you are full of shite

Where do you get your money from? I am borrowing it

Grants or Loans or Equity? Discuss. Grants are good to get you going or to do something completely new. But they are like heroin and bring you down. Loans are good if you want to stay in control.  Equity is fine as long as there are shared values and agreed expectations

What’s your advice for someone who’s thinking of starting a new social enterprise? Think about the business just as much as the social

If you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently? Take on fewer, better people

Which other social entrepreneur/social enterprise do you admire most and why? I admire Peter Holbrook (now at the Social Enterprise Coalition) and the team at Sunlight.  Real achievement.  No egos.  Proper community involvement.  No bullshit

What should the Social Enterprise Coalition do to promote social enterprise? Push our public services potential

Is the Social Enterprise Mark a good thing and why (or why not)? Not sure yet. I think some private businesses that can prove social outcomes should be able to get it

What should politicians do to promote social enterprise? David Cameron should say he wants every public service to be a social enterprise by 2020

Thanks a lot to Craig for doing the interview. Comments on any of the points raised in this interview are, as always, much appreciated. Craig does occasionally read this blog so he may chip in to any discussions that get going.

If you’re a social entrepreneur and you’d like to do an interview, send me an email and I’ll send you the relevant info.

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