“that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

Alfred Tennyson’s poem ‘Ulysses” may seem an odd way to start a blog about viability. Viability, in most social enterprises is often seen as the hateful necessity that stands in the way of doing what needs to be done. The endless scramble for money and resources to keep things going, the unending demand on time that takes from the purpose!

The challenge

But the challenge is always viability. And those that really want impact will strive, will endure and seek to find a way, not just any way but the better way for what they want.

Grants & funding

Almost all people contemplating social enterprises will enquire of what grants or funding can be sourced. One item that we caution all on, is to beware the grant trap. Grants, as a means to striving towards viability are fine, grants as the sole source of viability is usually a slow death march, at the whim of an outside agency. Some people really understand this well.

Lately I encountered a group in Cork, who were easily the most capable people I have encountered, of exploiting the potential in all grant support schemes, with an admirable clarity and efficiency. Equally though, they understood that to persevere and thrive with independence of action, exposure solely to such an approach is too risky. As a policy they strove for a minimum of 50% independent funding based on what they did. To their thinking this allowed them a degree of independence, to deal with any unexpected shocks, and that critical piece, to sometimes say no when the non-financial price might be unacceptable.

Viability is really another word for independence

In working with the 2016 people we have seen an array of very different models, through each of which we have belief they can strive . Each probably struggled most with this aspect through the programme. It is difficult always. It is often uncertain. But viability is really another word for independence, independence for the enterprise you create and independence for you too, to feel the enjoyment of your passion “to strive, to seek, to find “what matters to you and seeking viability is how “not to yield”.