Get clear on your mission.
Define the problem or social aim you want to address. Be as specific as you can be and think about the steps to get there. For example, “Solving world hunger” is a great aim, but may be too big an aim initially, but “ensuring rurally housebound people can get food deliveries” might be more achievable. Ambition is good but it also needs to be realistic for a start-up business.
Think about your stakeholders.
Who will have interest in this – good or bad? Stakeholders might be potential users of your product/service, or they might be potential partners or commissioners of your product/service. Who might have an interest?
Define your product.
What specifically, is the product or service that you want to offer? How do you see if coming to life for the customers? Will your product be something that is specifically for the beneficiaries? Or will your product serve to make profit so that you can use the profit to deliver what the beneficiaries need?
Consider the market.
Once you have considered the product or service you want to offer, you need to consider the market in which you operate – who are the customers, who are the competition, what’s the likely demand?
Figure out the financials.
If you haven’t got money to invest don’t despair. There are pots of money out there that can be accessed to get you going… but you will need a clear financial plan.
Find the right people.
Who can help you with the enterprise? Who might want to be part of it? Building a good team is critical to the success of any business.
Define your sales and marketing plan.
Sales and marketing aren’t dirty words. They are just the way you reach out and create demand so that you can win business and create more change. Just because you are a social enterprise may not be enough to ensure people want or will pay for your goods and services.
Ensure good governance.
Good governance is important. Think about who you want involved and what you want them to bring.
Choose the legal structure.
Pick the legal structure that suits your mission, activities, money, impact and governance requirements.
Write your business plan.
Remember it is only a plan, it can change, but a good plan will set you off in the right direction.
Internationally, Scotland is recognised as a world-leader in the field of social enterprise. There is a large network of support and investment for social enterprise and a clear 10-year National Strategy.
“The strategy sets out a wide-ranging, ambitious and long-term programme to develop the potential of Scotland’s social enterprise sector. It describes a clear path to stimulating social enterprise activity, developing stronger organisations, and realising market opportunity over a ten-year timeframe. It positions social enterprise as central to achieving our shared vision of a fair society and inclusive economy.”
SCOTLAND’S SOCIAL ENTERPRISE STRATEGY 2016-26
So why a social enterprise? They trade for the common good, addressing social needs, strengthen communities, improve people’s life chances and quality of life and protect the environment.
Social Enterprises and their approach form a fundamental part of the Wellbeing Economy. This is an economic approach that delivers human and ecological wellbeing. It focuses on changing the way we measure success, changing the dependency on a growth economy, and creating the policy framework to support an inclusive economy for societal wellbeing and sustainable prosperity.