The Editors' Post: Worries, warnings – and when work feels out of whack


What you don't need to worry about as a startup social entrepreneur; questions to ask yourself when you're hating your work – and warnings worth heeding. This week's highlights from Pioneers Post.

What’s the right legal structure for a new social enterprise? How can you sustain your venture? How do you scale it up?

All reasonable questions for an aspiring or early-stage social entrepreneur – but they’re questions that take up far too much attention, according to one seasoned expert. Jim Kucher, an associate professor who has helped more than 100 organisations, reckons people “get way too worried” about things like definitions and legal structures when they should be focused on more important matters. We’ve got a handy summary of his advice, as shared at last month’s Catalysing Change Week. 

If you’re looking into academic study or research, it’s worth checking out the latest Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which tracks the performance of universities around the world against the Sustainable Development Goals. This year, two countries dominate the top of the leaderboard.

And, if you feel like things are a bit off in your career, Liam Black has sound advice. You might be lucky enough to have found work that allows you to pursue your purpose – but sometimes the way you’re working just feels wrong, and the misalignment drags you down. “Anxiety, boredom, frustration, irritability or underperformance can all be signs that your purpose and platform are out of whack,” writes Black, in the latest instalment from his bookHow to lead with purpose: Lessons in life and work from the gloves-off mentor. He speaks from personal experience: running celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s social enterprise some years ago should have been a career highlight. Instead, he found himself hating it – and then “badly mishandled” his transition out of the role. He shares some simple steps and questions to ask yourself – so you can avoid making the same mistake.


The next big scandal?

Last week’s opinion piece by Jess Daggers, questioning our reliance on impact measurement, has prompted lots of comments. This week, Gurmeet Kaur of UK think tank NPC raises further concerns. NPC tested the hypothesis that good impact measurement processes ensure an investment will achieve the desired outcome. Their findings: there’s just not enough consistency or transparency to know if this is the case. “Without a more open and consistent approach to collecting and reporting impact data, the impact investing field risks becoming the next big scandal,” warns Kaur.

Another warning, as support organisation Do it Now Now reports that a mere 4% of UK Black-led social enterprises and charities have ‘high confidence’ that funders have their best interests in mind. The report authors acknowledge a bleak situation – building an organisation amid the current cost of living crisis “is like surviving in the middle of a desert with no resources” – but they also urge business leaders to strike a balance between prudent risk management and strategic growth, and to continue to seek opportunities for innovation. For funders, the message is clear: get emergency funding in place, and make sure it specifically targets Black social enterprises and charities. 


This week’s top stories:

Opinion: Impact investing needs more transparency – before it becomes the next big scandal

Five things you’re overthinking when setting up your social enterprise

Australia’s Western Sydney University wins top spot again for social and environmental impact 2023


Photo by Nik on Unsplash

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