As a social enterprise, your primary goal is to make a difference. Thus, you need a lot of passion, and at the same time a great action plan. When running a social enterprise, yes, you can build a profit motive. However, this should not be the only engine that drives you.
Aside from having a great purpose-driven business idea, you’ll need to have a well-strategized step-by-step plan. As the adage goes, failing to plan is planning to fail. The reality and truth behind social entrepreneurship are that you can make a living whilst making a difference in the world.
Here are seven steps you can use to run a successful social enterprise:
Start With a Mission Statement
Choose the group you want to serve and decide how you’ll do that. Clearly define the problem you want to solve for this group through your business. Also, assess your level of preparedness through the accessibility of resources, natural talents, core competencies, and training/skills.
Some of the guiding questions you can ask yourself for soul searching include:
- What value will I provide to my target group?
- What will I do?
- How will I achieve everything?
- Who am I doing all of this for?
Once you answer these questions, you’re one step closer to defining the mission statement.
Research the Problem
Do some extensive research on the social business landscape. Have some background information about who the key players are and what impact they’re making. Don’t try to copy what they’re doing blindly. Instead, reinvent their ideas, and try to be different in your approach. This uniqueness will help you stand out in your social entrepreneurship.
To carry out research, take advantage of technology through the use of Google. Use the lens of the consumer to search the internet. Put yourself in their shoes and attempt to understand their point of view.
Have an Offering That Benefits All Parties
When you begin to offer your business to the people, try and ensure that you benefit all of the parties interested and involved. Don’t be biased to one party at the expense of the other. Put yourself in the position of all of them and try to meet their needs.
If, for instance, you’ve started a business for lab grown diamonds, then you need to know who’ll benefit or want them. Also, know who you can help with the business. This will help you going forward to ensure that you don’t mess up everything.
Make your social enterprise unique from the rest. Even if there’s someone else offering the same, try and be different to stand out. Conceptualize your unique offering as much as you can.
Every social niche has its distinct rules and means of operation. And it would be best if you identified yours early enough. This would, by all means, add value to your efforts. It’s true that you can work hard, but if you don’t work smart, then it’s all useless in the end.
Profitability is Key
Even for a social enterprise, profitability is key. In the end, any company wants something coming into their accounts – not just going out. In order to make meaningful progress and profits, you must design a workable business model. And we will discuss this in detail in the subsequent text.
Profits will finance your plans as an organization or company. The myth that social enterprises don’t need to make profits is misleading. And if this is what you base your model on, then you’ll definitely regret the results that you get.
Develop a Professional Business Model
This is a roadmap of how you’ll make money as an organization or company. It is what will determine the amounts of profits the enterprise makes. Think about how far you want the products or services to reach, and you’ll be able to work out a good business model.
Are you planning to start small and operate with minimal staff, or are you planning to go big? For the latter, then it means that you’ll have to hire enough staff to supply the required effort.
Decide and allocate the money needed to start the enterprise. This will help you determine the type of business model that will translate into earnings.
Identify Initial Funding
What will the starting capital be? Can you afford to self-finance, or will you have to get a loan? Will you look for venture capitalists or angel investors for that enterprise? You could also use crowdfunding as an option with the rise of several crowdfunding sites.
Write the Action Plan and Stick to It
An action plan is not the same as a business plan. For the action plan, you’ll lay out the way forward and the action items for the enterprise. This also includes the day you launch and what the plans look like afterward.
In summary, the above seven steps will help you run a successful social enterprise. You can get there if you have the right motives, plan and dedication.