The first year of a social enterprise is usually the hardest, because there are so many unknowns.
Sure, you’ll meet plenty of challenges further down the road that will feel like the worst time for the operation, but nothing will quite beat the first twelve months when it comes to the thrills and – most importantly – spills you’ll encounter.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled five mistakes you’ll almost definitely make – even if you read this blog.
And there’s a very good reason we’re not telling you to avoid them (head to the ‘wrapping up’ section for the answer).
1. You’ll be hesitant to invest
Every social enterprise needs some form of start-up capital – even if it’s just a few hundred pounds to buy a new laptop.
You’ll be fully aware of this, too – but you’ll often struggle to dip into your bank balance. Spending money during those early stages often feels inappropriate – dangerous, even.
When you have very few leads and even less sales to ease your mind, the prospect of investing may tempt you to skimp and save.
2. You’ll forget to look on your doorstep
You’ve already got a bulging contact base and businesses within your social enterprise’s location that would provide the invaluable leads and introductions you need.
So, why did you forget to contact half of them and avoid looking at the prospects on the same road as your enterprise?
There’s so much direct business and opportunity on one’s doorstep but so many social entrepreneurs overlook it.
3. You’ll work from home too much
If you’re starting solo with your social enterprise, you’ll likely spend a fair bit of time working from home.
This is sensible – particularly if you can’t afford proper business premises that early on.
However, do it too much and you’ll quickly isolate yourself from opportunities that only exist if you get out there and shake a few hands.
4. You’ll get your pricing all wrong
When established social enterprises and businesses look back at their initial pricing strategies, they often wince.
It’s far too easy to either go in expensive or under-priced; hitting the middle ground that places you perfectly within the marketplace is such a difficult balance to get right.
Often, this stems from a lack of detailed market research and ignoring what the competition is doing. But, who’s got time for that, right?
5. Product development will become almost the sole focus
It’s all about the product!
Whatever it is your social enterprise provides its customers – be it a physical product or service – the first year will see you dive into the development of your product ferociously.
It’ll dominate your thoughts, fill your days with endless to-do items and be the sole focus for any meeting (even if it wasn’t on the agenda).
Unfortunately, that’ll leave quite a large part of the social enterprise wanting, such as the sales, marketing and future planning efforts.
So, how do we know you’ll make the above mistakes?
Because they’re incredibly common and practically unavoidable.
We’re not trying to steer you away from them, either, because learning from your mistakes is one of the most important things you’ll do as a social entrepreneur.
And, to be honest – we think you’ll be returning to this blog post at some stage in the future, anyway…!