The other day I was asked the following question: How did you develop a for profit initiative within the heart of a traditional non-profit? What was it that allowed you to do it successfully?
The question took me aback. I really didn’t have a good answer. It just felt like the organization was presented with an opportunity and ran through the door.
An explanation like that, however, is vague and uninspiring. More importantly, most stabs at building out a social enterprise (application of capitalistic strategies to achieve philanthropic goals), or any business for that matter, suffer a horrible fait. Yet entities do introduce new products/services, expand into new markets, and acquire proven assets everyday. Once a certain level of momentum is obtained the right steps tend to standout from the crowd. But, how does one start?
The answer is to pick a idea (it just has to be good not perfect) and work it. I would describe the process as follows:
- Test the concept. Get out and talk to your confidants about what you’re thinking. Absorb all the feedback. You’ll find that there are literally hundreds of reasons that it might not work. This though alone stops the vast majority of projects. Be different.
- Study and be able to explain the value proposition from the customer/consumer point of view. Get it to one sentence; X helps me Y by Z .
- Find strategic alliances that allow you to bootstrap market entry. For example, leverage someone else’s under utilized space or link with a complimentary product to create a bundle.
- Get real world feedback, adjust the value proposition and refine internal processes.
- Present the evidence to stakeholders who can provide the resources to expend the initiative.
Ok, so its not as easy as learning how to ride a bike, but it is skills based. And, skills can be learned so over my next five posts we’ll explore each step in more detail.
Q: Where are you getting stuck in the process?