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Choosing the right model to scale

Social entrepreneurs share their experiences choosing the right model for scaling up their businesses.
I did a lot of work with Middlesex University, on franchising. And I looked at whether franchising could be the methodology by which we would grow. Because the whole High Street is made up of franchises. So I thought, could we create a social franchise? So what we were finding was that we were targeting small charity nurseries nurseries that were struggling a bit, nurseries in poor areas that needed support.
But for them to be able to pay a franchise price, would be too much for them and it would be too little for us to then build the kind of quality group that we’d need to have, and the quality measures that we would need to have, and the quality team we’d have, that would always be checking that what was happening in the nurseries was of the LEYF standard. And so I couldn’t make it work, but what I’ve learned was an enormous amount about codification, scaling, business-in-a-box, and moving it and taking it on. So, you have to learn actually from the franchise world about taking things out and making things scalable and replicable.
You know, our nurseries look a particular way, they all have the same kind of model. Those things had to be codified and had to be articulated so that people understood those. So, while we didn’t end up going as a social franchise as model, we went on traditional business acquisition as a model, actually what we’ve learned from the process of looking at franchising was enormously helpful for our scaling up and for our integration. My name is Richard Evans, and I’m Chair of the Board and one of the founding investors here at Impact Hub King’s Cross, in London.
And I’m also Chair of the Board of the global Impact Hub Association, that all the Impact Hubs around the world, all the 82 of them are members of. We talk about the people who found an Impact Hub as ‘makers’ so Impact Hub makers. Between the makers and the other teams that we employ around the world, I think, and this is a rough guess, somewhere around 700-800 people around the world, are running or founding Impact Hubs, and then we have our members, are around to 12,000. We are a franchise I suppose to the extend that what the Association owns is the name, you can’t use the name Impact Hub unless you are a member of the Association. It’s not legally.
So, there are some aspects of the model if you’d like that are short of based on franchising and people pay a membership fee to be part of the Association. So to that extend, I guess you could say there is a franchising element. You know we really focus on the individual and the team, and we have a family. and that kind of works the size we are at the moment. We did grow, four or five years ago we grew to about twice the size in people’s numbers that we are now.
The lesson was that there’s a certain size that you can ensure that it does feel like a family, everyone knows each other well, everyone spends a bit of time together, and it’s all about having a system that encourages that and develops that. So, our strategy really is to develop that small family atmosphere with a focus on the community, but replicate it. So, rather than have one big company, covering all shorts of, you know, hundreds of services and thousands of people, we wanna have a whole network of small community enterprises doing something with that family feel.

Scaling a social enterprise is not a one-size-fits-all process.

In this video, social entrepreneurs discuss how they chose among different models for expanding their organisations. What do you learn from the different models discussed in the video? Do you know of a model not mentioned? Share it, and feel free to contribute to the comments made by your fellow learners.

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