Tips for starting a social enterprise
If you’ve come up with a business idea that solves a problem, benefits a sector of society and combines profit with purpose then you have the foundations of a social enterprise.
There are nearly 80,000 social enterprises in the UK, employing over a million people and contributing more than £24 billion to the economy.
So how do you get your idea up and running? Read on for our tips…
Do your research
As with any new business you need to make yourself aware of the competition. Assess the strengths and weaknesses of other players in your specific sector. Take into account that as a social enterprise you are not a charity and therefore must not neglect the ‘enterprise’ nature of your venture.
Have a clear vision
Ask yourself what problem you are trying to solve, who you are seeking to help and what is unique about your approach? If you don’t know the answers to these questions you’re going to find it difficult to raise funds, get partners on board and generate business. Successful social enterprises have their mission statement at the heart of all they do. Find yours and place it at the core of your plans.
Get your business plan together
Aim for no more than 20 pages and keep it short and concise. Your mission, vision and goals should all be stated. Include clear figures and time-frames and be ambitious yet realistic about what you can achieve.
You need to raise the funds to get your business off the ground. Thoroughly research the options available to you and be realistic about what you need to start up. You may be lucky enough to secure a grant, however these are few and far between and there is a great amount of competition for them. If you are considering a loan then it’s worth taking into account that new businesses, particularly start-ups, are often turned away by the banks so consider alternative funding as a possible injection of cash.
It’s likely that there’ll be other groups and organisations that share your passion for socially beneficial businesses so make connections, network and don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
Get your message out there
It’s crucial to network both to find out what you need to know from others but also what others might need from you. Use social media to get your business and message across and try to generate some media attention. You already have a great start in turning heads because of the nature of your business so use this to your advantage. Convey your passion for your cause and your business to others and spread the enthusiasm!