“I have a real heart for positive social change and I’ve volunteered for a variety of organisations over the years. I wanted to do something really meaningful with my work, but, until attending the SSE, I didn’t realise that I could create a business in that space. It was like, ‘Wow! Where has this been all my life?’”
Fiona King is an expert in animation, photography and video. For more than two decades, she has worked on short films, features and commercials – in corporate contexts and as a freelancer. But, despite such a successful career, she always longed to make a difference.
So, she came up with a plan: to launch a social enterprise, providing digital storytelling for not-for-profits and corporate responsibility programs. “I want to help them raise funds and awareness, and attract a younger audience,” Fiona said. “The donor base for so many of these types of organisations is ageing.” However, though she had the necessary creative skills, the prospect of starting a venture from scratch was daunting – until she enrolled in the SSE & BT Social Entrepreneur Incubator.
Starting in October 2014, Fiona met monthly with mentors from BT Financial Group. Where Fiona had the ideas, BT’s mentoring team had the business nous.
“The mentoring experience was amazing. It stretched me in directions that I hadn’t been stretched,” Fiona said. “I’m a creative, so I didn’t have a lot of business acumen. I’ve learnt so many new skills, from understanding how corporates run, to being effective in having an impact, to writing business plans.”
BT’s mentoring team agrees. “Fiona has made huge progress, she came in with no clear plan, but is now at a point where all the key components and pillars that form the foundation of a business are in place. So, she can start to decorate the building, if you like, and take it into the market. She now really understands who she is in the business and what she’s trying to achieve, both financially and socially.”
In addition, the Incubator gave Fiona opportunities to attend master classes and meet with fellow students for peer feedback sessions – both formal and informal. “I made new friends and I now have some great contacts,” she said. “Just being around such inspiring, encouraging people was eye-opening. It made me realise that I can do what I want to do – that there is a market for it. Wanting to change career doesn’t seem like a foolhardy idea anymore. There are lots of great organisations, like BT and the SSE, that want to support people. It’s given me the confidence to keep going.”
Meanwhile, BT’s SSE mentors are able to give back and see their skills and expertise making a difference in the social enterprise sector. The exposure to small businesses and entrepreneurs allows them to extend themselves and to learn about other areas.
Been thinking about your own social entrepreneurial start-up? Read more about how SSE & BT Social Entrepreneur Incubator helps entrepreneurs get moving.
This information is current as at 18/05/2015.