Learning about Earning: lessons 5 and 6 from a social enterprise start-up

Needs vs wants (evidence)

We’ve all heard of the youth centre that was built at great (public) expense but remained unused by young people. Someone decided they needed somewhere to meet but failed to ask the young themselves whether they wanted a place (or what kind).

When spending someone else’s money (grant or loan) you’ll rightly be asked to show that there’s demand – a market and or need for what you’re proposing to offer. Make sure it’s also a ‘want’ if you’re expecting users to be paying customers. In short, needs are what funders will pay for, wants are what users will pay for.

You should have evidence to demonstrate the need and the difference you’re making, but don’t get tied up in knots – decide what matters and measure that http://bit.ly/1xu5Mx7

Sharing vs protecting ideas

Like many others with an idea for a new enterprise, I thought mine was brilliant – merging two proven concepts – the Men’s Shed and the Repair Cafe – into one. For a very short time I investigated the idea of protecting ‘my’ idea (even though I’d borrowed the ingredients from other sources…) particularly as I planned to replicate it elsewhere at a later stage.

Aside from the practicalities of protecting intellectual property (IP), I was persuaded not to bother by someone I admire and respect from afar. David Floyd is a writer and critical friend of the social enterprise sector. He writes a brilliant blog – Beanbags and Bullsh*t  and he wrote one for the Young Foundation quite simply concluded that keeping your ideas close to your chest is far more likely to harm your enterprise development than sharing those ideas as widely as possible. Read the blog at http://bit.ly/1w4FArf (David also point out that having the idea is the easy bit – turning it into action is the hard part).

If you’re interested in exploring ways to turn ideas into action, join Chris Lee for a day-long workshop on December 4 in Chelmsford Details at www.voluntarysectortraining.org.uk/courses/event/70/Ideas-Into-Action


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