If you’ve ever visited the Eden Project in Cornwall, shopped at the Co-op, or bought the Big Issue from a seller on your local high-street, then you’ve already experienced a social enterprise. They make their money just like a normal company, but re-invest their profits back into the company and projects in the community, to fulfil an ethical goal.
When a social enterprise profits, so does the community
Being a creative, (whether it’s code, or images you create), fills you with a desire to produce good work, to push the boundaries and to leave your stamp on the world (well part of it at least!). The agency environment creates a constant battle between great work standards and profit margins.
The Creative members will want to produce the best work possible – I mean every job should be good enough to go in the portfolio right? On the other hand, the agency management will want to minimise costs to maximise profits.
Revenue and profits are the driving force for most agencies, no matter what they say on their website.
The Honest Agency wasn’t planned – it was a very spontaneous and emotional decision, to start doing things the right way. Talking with creatives that I know and trust well, confirmed that profits were the problem, so I decided to agree to give them away. Without the profits as the focus, the work takes the forefront.
We make our money just like any other company – we sell products (software) and services (development, design and marketing). We build a profit margin in to our hourly rates – just less than what profit driven agencies do!
Our team members receive good wages in-line with the rest of the industry and a sensible reserve is always kept. Any surplus funds are then allocated to the community pot, which we use for projects as described on this website. Our structure, location and ethos keep our cost base very low, maximising the funds available.
This is where we don’t have a definitive answer. It’s early days and so we’re still establishing ourselves, getting orders in the pipeline and building a reserve fund to ensure the survival of the long-term company.
We have some projects already in process, for charities, other social enterprises and our local communities – nothing we can write about just yet, but keep an eye on our blog over the next couple of weeks…
Initial plans are kid’s coding clubs (we’re writing the lesson plans now!), free work for charities (being briefed for an app currently), business advice (in discussions with a local centre) and digital skills for long-term job-seekers (one to work on I think…).