Before starting a social business, consider the individuals who will be heading the projects and how they would work together.
In the initial stages of a community project a group of people who recognise a need may come together to address the problem. Alternatively, an individual may take a leadership role, driving a project forward and motivating others to get involved.
To get a sense of your steering group, reflect on who you are as a social enterprise and define how your own stakeholders come together.
What does a steering group do?
The steering group’s main role is to see the project through until incorporation (registration of a company or other legal form) takes place. It will then be replaced by a management committee, Board of Directors or trustees (as appropriate for the legal form).
How to set up a steering group?
The steering group must have strong representation from the community in question. To make sure that’s the case, consider the following:
- What form will that representation take?
- How formal is it? For instance, are the representatives appointed by another body (e.g. a parish council) or are they self-appointed?
- Are the members of your steering group recognised by the community as a leader or representative?
- Can they feed back to the community?
- Who else is a member of the steering group? What expertise do they bring to the project?
Name every member of the steering group, give a short biographical profile, describe the roles that they have been given and their areas of expertise.
Steering group agenda
The meetings of the steering group do not need to be fully formalised, but they should be recognised as meetings, rather than simply discussions. In the meetings, decisions should be agreed and recorded.
If decisions are not agreed and recorded, and plans are not written down, it cannot be said that a steering group is in place. The external bodies and support organisations that you will need to work with will not have a defined group that they can deal with.
It is vital that the members of your steering group invest time, energy and (probably) money in the project. It’s also essential that they are committed to registering a company or society. There should be at least 3 people who are prepared to be the first board of directors – the Founder Members.
Finally, are there gaps in the steering group that need to be filled? If so, what is your recruitment plan?
Download the template below to help you define the steering group: