Can a lawyer leave their desk in the corporate world, transport themselves to India and start consulting to a social enterprise in a completely unrelated field?
This was my challenge. Others assured me I would be fine because I have a Critical Eye. I was not so sure.
I didn’t appreciate quite how much of a challenge this would be until training week kicked off and I found myself surrounded by other consultants who had previously held positions such as General Manager of small and large companies, finance traders, Director of Merchandising and business strategists just to name a few. For these guys, training week was a time to hone their business skills in the context of social entrepreneurship and learn more about the developing world.
For me though, I didn’t have the base level of business skills. My Critical Eye and I have never had to market a product, analyse a customer segment, fundraise or consider the Theory of Change (to be fair, the Theory of Change seemed to stump most of us – google it). So much to learn, such little time to learn it all.
The challenge continued when I was partnered with a somewhat established social enterprise which wanted to focus on fundraising and social media. Needless to say, lawyers and their Critical Eyes don’t fundraise and most of us don’t use social media to promote ourselves. With no contracts to review, I had to adapt.
Ergo, research. Research, research, research. At the halfway point of the program, I am finding ways to add value outside of my specific legal skill set, with the help of my other extremely experienced consultant. This means I am branching out in to digital marketing, investor pitches in to the HR space to help our clients transition from start-up entrepreneurs to effective team leaders (well, that is the goal anyway). No, they are not my area of expertise, but I have people skills, I can be objective and I know where to look for answers. Often, entrepreneurs don’t have the time or capacity for this.
There’s a whole world outside of law, but it can seem inaccessible when you’ve had no prior experience in businesses or social enterprises. In the world of social entrepreneurship, there’s a place for all skill sets. So the good news for lawyers is that you can leave your Critical Eye at home (although I’m sure my annoying Critical Eye is also coming in very handy), dive in the deep end and find ways to help you never imagined possible.
Would you like to #JoinUs in either Brazil, India, or Sri Lanka in 2016? APPLY HERE. Immersion Programmes are running throughout the year as well as a new programme format for people who can’t take 6 weeks out of their lives – our 2-3 week Inspiration Programme in Rio in August/September, and our flexible volunteer programme _TheAssignment. See our website for more details www.socialstarters.org.