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.

Do You Run a Social Enterprise?

Do you run a social enterprise or know a mum who does? Next year I’d like to feature a social enterprise owner (who is also a mum) on Business Plus Baby – and it would give you some publicity too.

So many mums start businesses with the aim of helping people as well as earning an income. So I’m wondering if  a social enterprise would be a great way to do both at the same time? The trouble is that I don’t actually know much about them! Here’s Business Link’s definition

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.

But I’d really love to hear from mums who are actually running social enterprises. I’d like to know…

  • A little about your business – what do you do?
  • Why did you start a social enterprise rather than a traditional business?
  • Is it harder to run a social enterprise? Or does it actually bring business benefits as well as social ones?
  • What would your advice be for a mum thinking of starting a social enterprise?
  • Anything else you’d like to tell us!

If you’ve got a story to share, please send me a message. Looking forward to hearing from you!

Free Business Advice in the East of England

If you need business advice and live in the East of England, take a look at the Enterprise Start-Up and Development Association (ESUDA).

You could get FREE advice if you:

  • Are thinking of starting a business
  • Started a business in the last 3 years
  • Are based in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Suffolk or Norfolk

Enterprise Start-Up & Development Association (ESUDA) is a family run social enterprise that offers free and low-cost business support services to women, young adults, people with disabilities and Social Enterprises in the East of England.

They have 5 business advisers with a history of starting and running businesses. Whether you are struggling to write a business plan, want to find new customers or just want someone to talk to about your business, they will be able to help you by offering advice, training and support in all areas of enterprise.

To find out more visit www.esuda.co.uk or email adriana@esuda.co.uk

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