Source 9: Next Steps
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Source 9: Next Steps

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If you’re ready to start a social enterprise, start with these steps:

1. Make sure your executive director is intrigued by the idea.

2. Recruit at least one board member who likes the idea and will serve as its champion.

3. Create an “enterprise” committee who can ask all the “dumb” questions aloud—the questions no one else will ask because they’re too close to the table. The committee should consist of:

  • Three people from your board
  • Three from your senior management team
  • Three or four outsiders who have experience as entrepreneurs
  • Two outsiders who may not know anything about business, or even about your nonprofit, but who your executive director trusts implicitly. 

4. Put somebody in charge and don’t expect everyone on staff to do a little bit of this project. The person in charge should not do this in addition to his/her other job. Be sure to give the person the necessary clout and resources.

5. Conduct a self-assessment of your organization. Ask yourself:

  • What is your organization’s current capacity?
  • What “value” do you have in the marketplace?
  • What competitive edge do you have?
  • Is it possible to develop earned income based on current services or products?
  • Is someone already offering your service or product? If so, you must do it better.
  • Are there any services or products you should reduce, eliminate, or transfer somewhere else?
  • What are the obstacles, challenges, and liabilities involved?
  • What resources do you have to create earned income?

6. Conduct informational interviews with groups that are actually involved in the service or product you are researching.

7. Hire someone who can conduct a feasibility study.

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