Social entrepreneur Stephen McCue had almost twenty years’ experience of teaching adults and young people with dyslexia when he set up his venture in 2009, but very little business experience.
Dyslexia Pathways CIC became the first dyslexic-focused social enterprise in the world and set about delivering bespoke training on all aspects of dyslexia to organisations wanting to better meet the needs of their dyslexic staff, clients or service users.
Although he admits he was lacking in confidence, Mr McCue wasn’t short of vision. He had plans to scaleup by tapping into new markets and launching further products, and saw that the scope of his market was massive.
“I’ve been told that dyslexia is a niche market, but when you consider there are 6 million dyslexics in the UK and over 50 million in the USA, it is a rather large niche,” he said.
He also points out that a lot of opportunities are lost if people with dyslexia are excluded or not encouraged to fulfil their potential. For example, around 35% of entrepreneurs are dyslexic, and Steve believes that figure could be higher still if the right support is offered “We need more dyslexic business owners and entrepreneurs to come forward to mentor and support aspiring dyslexic entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Steve applied to the Scotland Can Do SCALE programme on the basis that it would provide further training and networking, and that he would also be able to contribute positively to others’ businesses. Importantly, it would provide further contact and support from mentors and other entrepreneurs.
He said: “I am really a social entrepreneur but being an entrepreneur can be quite isolating, it’s not an easy road. The highs can be very high, but the lows can be very low.”
Entering the programme with the ambition of bringing all his enterprise goals closer to fruition, Mr McCue found the course inspired a number of new ways of working and outlets for his company. Dyslexia Pathways CIC opened an online store to sell T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies, bearing a positive message about dyslexia and neuro difference. It also has plans for a new hub and has been working with St Andrew University on a new assistive technology visual scanning tool to support dyslexic and disabled readers.
And in 2016 Dyslexia Pathways CIC also will be working in partnership with Healthy Working Lives Fife to deliver cost effective dyslexia awareness training sessions and other dyslexia support services to businesses, organisations and individuals in Fife.
“I feel if has given me the confidence to do what we have been attempting to do for the last two years – that is, to diversify what we are doing into new products and markets,” he said. “It also opened my eyes to a bigger goal: to open a new dyslexia hub to promote our social model vision of dyslexia that seeks to promote #dyslexia as a difference that reflects #diversity.
“The whole experience of the Summer school gave me the tools I needed to move my organisation forward and the confidence to set bigger goals. So I would really encourage any entrepreneurs out there to have a look at this year’s online training course, and see how it can help you and your venture reach new heights.”
To sign up for the online training and find out more about how Scotland Can Do SCALE can help your business, click here: http://scotlandcando.wpengine.com/signup/