I founded The DoNation a couple of years ago. It's a sponsorship site much like JustGiving, only there's no money involved. You donate by Doing.
We're always looking for Doers and volunteers, to tap into the great skills that different people offer.
I could share experiences and insights from setting up a social enterprise and online business too.
Drop me a line if interested.
Hermione is a fantastic Esc Hero who is out there doing her own thing and making a positive difference in the world as well. She's also really willing to share social enterprise advice with Esc members and is looking to expand her team. So don't be shy - use the question form at the bottom and get in touch with her!
Right now, I could help you to escape! I'm always looking to expand our team. I could also give some advice on social enterprise, and on setting up in business online, especially from a non-techie perspective. Get in touch and I'll see what I can do!
Working far too much! But I love it.
I'm busy setting up a social enterprise called http://www.thedonation.org.uk/" rel="nofollow">The DoNation - it's a new environmentally focused sponsorship platform that enables people to 'donate by doing'. Think of JustGiving, but instead of asking people for cash, you ask for action. These are all simple, carbon-saving actions like walking to work, switching electricity supplier, or even installing solar panels. The ultimate aim is to encourage a mass-movement towards more sustainable lives.
What does it involve, on a day-to-day basis? A bit of everything! A lot of it is very unglamorous desk work - emails, emails, emails; funding applications; financial forecasts; marketing plans; social media; legal issues; accounts; admin; web development project management; recruitment; design work; and partnership development.
But I also spend a huge amount of time getting out and about. Its vital for any start-up to be out there, meeting people in the field, bouncing ideas around, getting your name known, and generating a bit of a buzz. Be it a meeting, a conference, a training workshop, a talk, or a plain and simple networking event, I am probably out there at least 3 times a week, often far more.
I really enjoy that part, it's what keeps the excitement and motivation rolling. But it's exhausting too. I probably work an average of 10 hours a day, and usually put in a few hours over the weekend too. But some of those are done whilst sitting cosily in bed!
A variety of things, and in a rather unconventional order. My first job, aged 18, was an internship at HSBC Investment Bank. It wasn't for me.
My next job was as a ski instructor in New Zealand. Then as a glamourous 'Waste Auditor' at Edinburgh Zoo... from there I moved into CSR, working for Sancroft, a small blue-chip consultancy in Westminster.
Before getting started on my MSc Environmental Technology at Imperial College in 2008/2009, I spent a stint back in Canada, where I became a bus driver and ski-host in the Canadian Rockies. Quite the contrast to the smart Westminster job...
I then went back to uni for the MSc in order to qualify myself to get more deeply into the environmental policy field; I really wanted to work for the government or an environmental consultancy.
But on graduating I decided instead to dive into this mad world of self employment...
After the MSc I decided to cycle to Morocco - from London. I'd wanted to go to Morocco for years, I'd dreamt of the romance of a long cycle adventure, I hated the idea of flying, and I knew the job market was dire.
I wanted to use the challenge to raise support for the environment and climate change, but I felt uncomfortable asking friends for money - they were broke or tired of endless fundraising requests. I also realised that the environment needed peoples' action more than it needed their money. So I came up with this novel sponsorship model, and went about asking people to sponsor with action, through a http://www.thedonation.org.uk/" rel="nofollow">site a friend built for the trip. Initially it was meant just for our trip!
I didn't - it just happened!
I suppose I realised that something might come of the idea half-way through my MSc, and so changed my thesis topic to one more relevant to The DoNation. I ended up researching the impact of climate change pledge schemes - it acted as perfect market research.
That was about all the planning I did... I just dove straight in!
Best: Amazing sense of purpose. Passion for work. Meeting incredible and inspiring people. I've managed to have meetings with people I wouldn't have dreamt of meeting under a 'normal job', and they always seem genuinely excited and interested in what I'm doing. Total diversity of tasks - I love being able to jump from financial forecasts to social media to networking. Complete control over the direction you go.
Worst: Huge responsibility - it's quite overwhelming at times. No-one to refer tough decisions to. The endless quest for funding. Inability to switch off. Work is on my mind day-in day-out, and just as I do manage to switch off on a fun Friday night, someone will ask me 'so, what do you do?'... and suddenly I'm diving into all the details, yet again.
The only good decision is the decision you make. The worst decision is not to decide; to dilly-dally, and to wonder. Just do it.
Also, have a partner in crime. Don't try setting up in business alone. I made the mistake of being the 'sole founder', and as time goes on it only gets harder to find that partner, yet it becomes more and more important.