Starting a Social Enterprise: Siobhan Robertson of Trela

Many women starting out in business are motivated by more than just making money or even being able to work around their children.  That means that a social enterprise could be a good choice for many mums starting out in business.

Here’s Business Link’s definition of a social enterprise…

A social enterprise is a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.

Siobhan Robertson launched her social enterprise, Trela, just a couple of weeks ago on 10th January. Today Siobhan tells us about Trela and why she chose to start a social enterprise.

  • Tell us a little about Trela

Trela aims to bring creative people together to create, learn, network and source supplies. We also aim to work with the local community advancing the understanding of mental health issues and offering a way of using creativity to relieve stress.

  • Why did you start a social enterprise rather than a traditional business?

I started business as a graphic designer though have had the idea of Trela in the back of my mind for a long time. The plans have grown over the years and now I am finally at the point where I feel I am ready to go ahead with them. The ideas I have are all based on working with the community and after searching around I found out about social enterprises and realised that my idea fitted in with this business structure. It meant that I could do what I enjoy while making enough money to live on. I have suffered from fibromyalgia from a young age and this has made it very difficult for me to work full time out of the house. Working from home means that I can work when I feel up to it and around my daughter. She goes to nursery 3 days a week at the moment though I find myself working at night as well when she is in bed.

  • Is it harder to run a social enterprise? Or does it actually bring business benefits as well as social ones?

I would say it does bring business benefits. Having searched social enterprises I came across Firstport. They support social enterprises with free business advice and start up awards. I think being a social enterprise will bring more interest to the business as people will see that it isn’t another money grabbing scheme. It is a business set up that the community can get involved in and can really be a part of.

  • What would your advice be for a mum thinking of starting a social enterprise?

My advice for other mums looking in to setting up as a social enterprise would be to get in touch with Firstport or Business Link. Research is also a great help when you are making plans, looking at what other similar ideas have to offer and how they go about it. I have lists and lists of ideas that I am slowly working through. Take it a step at a time and you will get there.

If you’re a mum running a social enterprise I’d love to hear from you.

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