What Is The Circle Academy?

Here at The Circle, we’ve been thinking hard about how to distil down to it’s essence, exactly what The Circle Academy is, and what it can do for you and your business. It’s an informed, multifaceted approach to equipping social leaders with business skills, covering a plethora of topics.

You can find out more about The Circle Academy here, but with the second cohort of the Academy just around the corner, we thought we’d break down exactly what it is, and answer some of your frequently asked questions along the way:

What is The Circle Academy?

The Circle Academy is a 12-week intensive, practical and educational training programme for individuals interested in running More Than Profit businesses.

The programme will provide the tools and building blocks to start, launch and grow their More Than Profit organisation and a resource bank of information and mentors to provide ongoing support and guidance as the candidate’s proposals are formulated and refined.

Why did we create the Academy?

Firstly, because we want social businesses to succeed. The Circle itself is a community interest company, we understand the challenges of existing as a social business, and we want to share our experience and expertise to help other social businesses to overcome them.

We believe that for all businesses, profit and social impact should go hand in hand. We want social enterprise to grow to a scale where it can sit alongside ‘for profit’ corporations, and challenge them to address their social impact. We want companies that set out to do good, to be the norm.

We know that no social entrepreneur is born with business skills, but many are expected to jump straight into the role of founder and CEO. We know that this just isn’t realistic. We can’t teach passion, lived experience or ideas, but we can ensure those that have these qualities also have the right skills and support to turn them into a successful business.

Being a social entrepreneur is a challenging job with individuals at risk of financial instability and burnout. We believe that no one should have to work themselves to exhaustion, experience high levels of stress, or go without a fair wage. Our belief is that by taking a ‘More Than Profit’ approach, we can ensure that social entrepreneurs can take care of themselves, in turn giving them a better chance of taking care of their staff and beneficiaries.

Who Can Participate?

The Academy is designed for anyone who is, or is planning to deliver on social impact.

  • You have an idea, you are at an early stage, you have worked on your project in your spare time, or simply are working on the side. You don’t have funding (not much, anyway), but you have made enough progress that this programme will be an excellent learning and growth opportunity. Quite possibly, you have even achieved some traction in under 3 years so that you will start the programme with momentum.
  • We will consider individuals, who work for existing companies and organisations, who are in Leadership, Management, CEO roles
  • People who are looking for a career change or to find out more about running a More Than Profit organisation.
  • We will also consider applications from Trustees and those interested in governance such as Directors and non-executive directors who want to learn more about growing their organisations. 
  • We also welcome applications from Funders and Investors.

What is the point?

The Circle Academy exists to allow participants to gain valuable skills and knowledge, and advice from the right people, they need in order for their social business to be successful and sustainable.

What will be covered?

The sessions will cover growth mindset, business planning, legal structure, finance, governance, board meetings, sales and selling, marketing, culture, teams, social impact, income generation and pitching. Through a mixture of expert talks and presentations, workshops, group discussions, training, one to one consultation and action learning.

What will I get out of it?

  • An opportunity to hone your pitching skills. With the opportunity to pitch for a share of a £20,000 prize fund pledged by UnLtd Scotland. You could receive up to £5000 to put towards your business idea.
  • Access to ongoing support with your business, and access to coworking space, for the 9 months immediately following completion of the programme.
  • 12 weeks worth of take home knowledge, with access to a manual and resources that will help you put your learning in to practice post programme.
  • Confidence in pitching and presenting to a board. Confidence in your business and how you will deliver it going forward.
  • A community and support network of fellow participants that offer advice, support, networks, and genuine connections.

What makes it different to other training programmes for social entrepreneurs?

The Circle Academy focuses on equipping individuals with the skills to run a sustainable business with a social impact. We focus on a ‘More Than Profit’ model, with the understanding that sustainability is key; our sector can no longer rely solely on grant funding to survive, and entrepreneurs and organisations need to learn how to adapt.

Our unique offering comes in the form of brutally honest constructive feedback, necessary to ensure each individual has a genuinely viable business model, and the confidence to deliver it.  Nothing is sugar-coated; and the participants leave the programme all the better for it.

Who will be delivering the programme?

The programme will be delivered by the Academy Manager, Kara. Kara has a background in business having opened her first business at 19 whilst still at University. She then sold up and moved onto her second venture, which was sold on to a employee in 2019. Kara brings a commercial attitude to a socially driven programme.

Supporting Kara, is the digital learning producer Alice. Alice eats, sleeps and breathes social change and supports the development of learning materials for the candidates. Alice shares the passions that a lot of the candidates have and is always there to offer support.

Plus all of the speaker sessions are delivered by individuals who are experts in their field, specifically chosen for the programme because of their industry knowledge and reputations.

How much commitment is needed?

The programme will take place two days per week for 12 weeks. You should be able to attend all sessions.

What does the schedule look like?

The Academy sessions will take place on Thursdays from 9am up to as late as 8pm, and Fridays from 9am-3pm.

Where is the academy held?

The Academy sessions take place at The Circle, 4-6 Staffa Place, Dundee DD2 3SX

How much does it cost?

The full cost of the Academy is £4000.

Is there funding available?

Yes. There is funding available for a number of full or part funded places.

If you’d like to enquire about a full or part funded place, email kara@thecircleacademy.org.uk.

When does it start?

Cohort 2 will begin on the 20th of February 2020. And a third cohort is scheduled to launch in September.

How can I take part?

To apply to join The Academy, complete an application form, and return it to kara@thecircleacademy.org.uk.

The deadline for Cohort 2 applications is the 14th of February 2020.

Is the application process difficult?

No. All we ask from you is to complete a short application form that will give a better feel for your business idea, and establish your suitability for the programme. From there, we may invite you into our offices at The Circle for a follow up chat.

Successful applicants will be asked to complete an onboarding process, and sign a contract outlying the terms, content, and expectations.

Did we miss anything? If you can’t find an answer to your question about The Academy here, on our website, or in The Academy prospectus, feel free to email us at kara@thecircledundee.org.uk or alice@thecircledundee.org.uk.