New year, new social enterprise
Is 2018 the year you’ll be taking the plunge and starting your own social enterprise?
Good news: there’s never been a better time to get started on your big idea, and we’d love to help.
Starting a social enterprise is easier than you might think, and with advisers like ours at Inspire2Enterprise to guide your way, there’s a tonne of free information, advice and guidance to call upon.
Here’s some of the most common advice we offer plucky social entrepreneurs:
The five questions to ask when starting your social enterprise
When setting up a social enterprise, you need to ask yourself the following five questions:
- What’s your idea?
- What will the enterprise’s structure be?
- What’s the business plan?
- What do you need to get started?
- How will you find customers?
The good news? Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ve effectively created your first business plan!
Also, once you know what your idea is, you’ll need to start thinking about how you’ll legally structure the company. This will depend on a number of factors.
Firstly, you need to think about how many people are involved. Is it a solo mission, or do you have a handful of equal partners? This should help you decide whether you need to start as a sole trader, partnership or limited company.
Think ‘customer’ from the start
It might seem odd, but many social enterprises get so caught up in the start-up process and focusing on becoming a ‘real’ business that the need to find customers slips down the priority list.
Once you’ve found that all important first customer, or at least know roughly where you’ll find them, there are some other things you’ll need to consider.
The first customer you find is much more than simply the first source of income. It’s obviously important for your social enterprise to make money, but the people or companies you sell to represent fantastic marketing opportunities, too.
For instance, they can become the basis of a case study which illustrates what you do and the impact your enterprise will have on those who buy from it.
Success of this kind with early clients is vitally important when it comes to generating word-of-mouth referrals, which will become one of your most effective forms of marketing. It will also help you refine your offering, improve the business plan and clarify your costs.
Questions to ask when the unexpected happens
Many social enterprises start in a particular direction – usually by offering a specific service or product – before encountering a customer who wants something slightly different.
When this happens you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- Can we do it?
- Does the request represent a wider opportunity?
- Is it right for the social enterprise?
- Is there an opportunity cost?
If the benefits outweigh the cons and you feel that the new request is the right direction to take, grab the opportunity! Just make sure you revise your business plan so that it aligns with the new direction.
Help is here!
Inspire2Enterprise offers free help and advice to anyone looking to start, finance or grow a social enterprise.
We can help you write your business plan, decide on the company structure and provide feedback on your idea.