Intentionality is 5!

It’s Intentionality’s 5th birthday today!

It might just be me, but I don’t often properly set aside time to celebrate and reflect, but today seems like an important day on which to do so.

Firstly, to celebrate. A lot has happened in five years; from registering as a CIC on the 23rd April 2010, to delivering our first workshop (supported by GLL, the YMCA and Chapel St), then to securing our first big contracts (both with UnLtd providing social impact advice to the pilot cohort of the Big Venture Challenge and to the ventures on the second iteration of the programme) and employing another team member (the brilliant Amy Harries). It’s been one of the greatest privileges of my life to have created something that has been able to provide employment and an income for others, and something that I don’t take lightly.

I’m also very mindful of, and thankful for, the wider team around Intentionality. We have a fantastic board of non-exec directors, all of whom are at least ten times smarter and more brilliant than I am, which is exactly what’s needed. Fiona, Hannah, Elliot and Phil are amazing and provide invaluable support, advice and expertise. Our team of Associates over the last five years have ensured that Intentionality has ‘punched far above its weight’ as well.  Jess, Rachael, Hannah, Adrian, Steven, Tim and Neil have all added loads and have done so while putting a lot of faith into a very small business and in taking a risk on interesting, often low budget, projects.

I move from celebration to reflection when considering the oft-quoted fact that most small business start-ups fail within 5 years (for more info, see here). To have made it to that point and still be here is certainly food for thought.

I was asked a few weeks ago to provide a few top tips for a gathering of social entrepreneurs at the RSA’s Social Entrepreneurs’ Network. Here’s what I came up with – they reflect some of the things I’m most grateful for, have found most valuable, or am still working on after 5 years at the helm of Intentionality:

  • Aspire to change the world but be content with changing the lives of a few people in a small area.
  • Get great advisors or non-execs on your board – they are invaluable.  Also, get a mentor.
  • Measure what matters, and what matters is your impact.  However, only measure what matters, not much else.
  • Sleep well and take time off occasionally.
  • Take a course or seek help to become more financially astute – learn to read and interpret your accounts. Everyone says it, but cash really is king.
  • If you don’t ask, you don’t get.  People are incredibly willing to help, to give their time or to share their knowledge if asked.
  • Always carry a book with you (or have podcasts to listen to) so that you can always be learning.
  • Love people. Be irrationally inclusive, warm, welcoming, trusting and caring.

What might the next five years hold for Intentionality?

We’re going to be exploring well-being more and how it can act as a meaningful, measurable, cross-cutting ‘lens’ through which to understand impact, we’re planning to extend our exploration of the role of love in social enterprises, and we’re going to investigate opportunities for Intentionality to create something a bit closer to the ‘frontline’ of social enterprise.

Finally, a huge thanks to you for reading this far and for taking an interest in Intentionality. It’s much appreciated.