Managing expectations

The time has never been better for us to explain, clearly and loudly, to whoever will listen, why social enterprise has the potential to be 'a better way to do business'. But we need to be careful about this. There's a well-worn saying in customer care - "under-promise and over-deliver". In other words, say you'll deliver a book within a week and have it with your customer the next day, not the other way around.


The same goes for social enterprise which, with a rich heritage that goes back to the Rochdale Pioneers - founding fathers of the co-operative movement 165 years ago - and featuring in central government policy for the past decade, now finds itself flavour of the month and, hopefully, for a lot longer than that!


Walking the talk 


It's beholden to all of us to manage expectations about what social enterprise can achieve. If we get carried away with our own publicity and hold it up as the solution to all economic, social and environmental ills, and it's then found wanting, we could see customers taking their business back to mainstream suppliers - condemning social enterprise as 'all mouth and no trousers'.


So, passionate as we are, we must avoid over-selling social enterprise - be patient and persistent - it's taken over 165 years to get to this point.