Equal Parts Heart & Head When Launching a Social Enterprise
10 July 2013 at 9:31 am
There’s more to getting your social enterprise ready to start up than a great idea and a community in need. Those that make their way into Social Traders’ business incubation program, The Crunch, have already started asking themselves the big questions to find out if their idea has the capacity to be a self-sustaining social enterprise.
The Crunch is a six month intensive development program that helps social enterprises to build individual capacity, develop a rigorous business plan and gain exposure to a range of social investors.
Is your social purpose clear?
You understand the social or community problem you are trying to address. But are you clear on the role your social enterprise will play?
Is it to provide training or employment like ‘The Big Issue’? Or is it to fill a gap you believe exists in the market, like providing low cost healthcare or community childcare? Can your social enterprise make profit that will then be used to fund social programs elsewhere like many of the larger non-profits have done with their op shops? And if so, how much will your social enterprise need to make a real difference?
You can’t be all things to all people. Think about your most important objective and how you will measure your success.
Will your idea survive in the market?
There’s nothing sweeter than the feeling you get when telling others about your social enterprise idea and seeing their faces light up with excitement.
The tough question is, does a market exist for your product or service? Who are the people making up this elusive market and what are their needs? Do they have money to spend? How will you talk to them? Are they listening?
A good way to tackle these questions is by asking yourself another scary question, who are your competitors and what are they already doing in your market space? Be better than them or… be different!
How strong is your team?
One thing that we find budding social enterprises often underestimate is just how resource intensive it is to start-up an enterprise. Conducting market research, testing different business models, writing a business plan and networking are all time consuming. You will need a supportive team around you to get your enterprise off the ground.
And there will be setbacks. Your market research will not always tell you what you want it to. Key partnerships can be harder to forge than you expect. Money does not always flow from where you would hope. Do you and your team have the flexibility and resilience to respond creatively and positively to these setbacks?
The benefit of participating in a program like The Crunch is that you have the support to guide you through this journey. The Crunch will provide you with the tools to tackle these challenges; does your team have the attitude and approach to make the most of the opportunity?
Are you ready to take the challenge?
One of the key outcomes of The Crunch is a business plan that has been rigorously tested and is ready to be pitched to investors. Are you prepared to critically assess every part of your idea? Share it with others? And open it up to scrutiny?
With an open mind, a great idea that you are passionate about and a determined team, you are ready to take your social enterprise to the next level.