The definition of a social enterprise varies from source-to-source. So you’ve got an idea you think could make the world a better place. Even better, you think it can make money. How do you go about turning your idea into a real business? Discussed below 5 steps to create a successful social enterprise.
Figure out your market
Social enterprises are businesses, selling either a service or a product to make money. You can have all of the passion in the world to tackle a social issue, but your business won’t survive if it can’t pay the bills. So consider carefully: who is going to buy what you are offering? Are you going into a crowded market? What is the competition like and how are you offering something different? Whether you call them clients or customers, you’ll need buyers, so research the marketplace you’re entering into thoroughly and be honest with yourself about whether or not there’s a gap you could fill.
Have a clear social mission
As a social enterprise, you are going to get asked about your mission a lot. It’s what makes you stand out. Funders will want to be sure about the social change they invest in, and customers will check you’re different from less ethical alternatives. You might even get a few nosy journalists checking you’re not just greenwashing to get business.
Check out the financials
How will you fund your social venture? If you haven’t got a pot of start-up cash, don’t despair. A number of organizations are willing to give you some money to get your project started if your idea is convincing enough. Do some financial planning too.
Write your business plan
A business plan is there to provide all the answers that anyone might ask about your business. And, to state the obvious, it is a plan a home for all the thinking that you have done about how to make this thing work that you can refer back to when things go wrong (as they inevitably will at some point). Anyone interested in your business (particularly investors) will ask to see your business plan, so it’s good to have one even if you don’t think it’s perfect.
Prove you’re making a difference
Measuring your impact can be tricky depending on the nature of your business how might you measure an improvement in mental health, for example? But impact information can help to determine if your business is effective, and may inform changes you need to make if not. If you’ve measured and you’re getting positive results, that’s great for both attracting investors and for marketing your idea works!