LaunchMe – Just Breathe 02
With LaunchMe now open for expressions of interest, we caught up with LaunchMe 2022 participant Beth Morrison, to find out how the programme has helped develop her business and prepare her for becoming investment ready.
Can you tell us about Breathe 02 and how you got started?
My previous position was Operations Director for The Oxygen Work, a registered charity based in Inverness. I dedicated over seven years to the organisation, instrumental in its growth; I helped them achieve exponential growth and played an active role in developing and implementing a rebrand in 2017. As part of the role, I was crucial in delivering a development project that created a centre of excellence in oxygen therapy to serve the Scottish Highlands.
Due to personal circumstances, I had to leave the Highlands, but I did not want to deviate from oxygen therapy. With no access to oxygen therapy within a 100-mile radius of my new home, why not bring it to the southwest quarter of the country? And as they say, the rest is history.
When setting up Just Breathe O2 why did you become a social enterprise?
I wanted the organisation to be for the community and not for profit. As I had previously worked within a charity, there were many aspects that I knew I wanted to steer Just Breathe O2 away from. A social enterprise was a perfect fit for the vision I had.
When starting on their social enterprise journey, social entrepreneurs often ask, What legal structure should I use? How did you settle on your legal structure, and where do you think deciding on a legal structure sits when starting?
To protect the organisation, I felt that a Community Interest Company was the best fit for Just Breathe 02 as I wanted an asset lock and the requirement for a board of directors. The legal structure should be a high priority when starting a social enterprise, as it will shape the organisation in the first instance and as it grows.
In addition to having a legal structure, a social enterprise requires setting up a board. How did you decide who to have on the board, and what process helped you choose?
To achieve a balanced approach and ensure all decisions were made carefully, I wanted people who think differently from each other.
I was also keen to keep the board small but effective in the first instance, which meant the individuals would require to be well-rounded as a collective. The main factor that helped me decide was achieving the right balance between charitable and business. In the first instance, I approached people I had previously worked with in the business and third sectors. I was lucky enough to find three very willing individuals interested in joining Just Breathe O2.
When we expand the board, we will be looking to roll out an advertisement campaign across social media, particularly LinkedIn.
As a social enterprise, like many other businesses, you may need to hire staff or volunteers. How did you find this process, and how did you feel about handing over some responsibility?
I am just starting to get my head around this, which will be difficult, as I have done it all on my own from day one. The best way to approach this is to first deal with the processes and legalities and remove some of the emotion attached to letting go of some responsibility. It is essential to grow the business, so as difficult as it may be, it is just another step in setting up a business.
You are currently receiving support through our LaunchMe programme. How has this helped you in your social enterprise journey?
The support from LaunchMe has been fantastic; the number of times that I have been concerned about something, only to have had a conversation with someone through LaunchMe and discover it is normal. Businesses are constantly changing, and although plans are essential, it’s important to understand that most things never go as expected. The different aspects of LaunchMe have also been brilliant at keeping me on track, reminding me of what needs to be done, and learning how to prioritise effectively.
Launch Me helps social entrepreneurs become investment ready. Why did you decide on a social investment model?
The very nature of my business means that I require a significant investment in the early stages due to the cost of the equipment. Still, with the right approach, I will achieve a quick turnaround and become profitable.
The latest social enterprise census shows a modest increase in social enterprises considering repayable finance. What do you think are the benefits of social investment?
It is a very safe option for a social enterprise, as it provides an opportunity to grow the business, with support and sound advice, particularly in the early stages.
The Launch Me progamme provides participants with workshops designed to help them become investment ready, from social impact and finance management to market research. What workshop did you find most valuable, and how have you applied it in your everyday practice?
Market research and digital marketing workshops were the two that I took particular note from and continue to put into practice daily.