Practical advice has been prepared with the support from social entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan.
1. Social entrepreneurship is, on the one hand, simply a business where you need to think like an entrepreneur and foresee possible risks and opportunities. On the other hand, all costs and expenses should be assessed from an ethical point of view and as to whether they help to solve the social issue you have chosen.
You should be ready to accept that social entrepreneurship may involve more challenges and difficulties than any conventional business. To this end, the most important things are a good business plan, your readiness to do good, patience, and trust in yourself and what you do.
2. When preparing a business plan for your social enterprise, you should ask yourself:
- What is the social issue you want to solve?
- How will you solve it? What do you plan to do (for example, open a café to employ graduates from orphanages or process plastic waste)?
- What products or services will you sell?
- Why should people buy your products or services?
- Who will manage your social enterprise (you or like-minded persons, and how do you plan to find suitable people)?
- What is your goal? What do you want to achieve? When setting your goal, begin with the words "By that time, I hope that my enterprise will... "
- What is happening in the market? How will you know what the market’s needs are? Who are your potential customers and competitors? What is your pricing policy? What will the image of your social enterprise be? How will your enterprise be perceived by people when they hear its name? What techniques and approaches will you use to promote your products or services in the market?
- What will be the social, economic and environmental impacts of your social enterprise? For example, how do you plan to use your income to help other people? What economic innovations will you introduce? How many people will you employ? Will your production damage the environment?
- How will you launch your social enterprise? When will it open? What is the number and age of people who will fulfil your project? Where will you open your social enterprise?
- Financial issues: Where will you find money to launch your social enterprise? What are your expenses? What will bring you income? What income will you generate and how will you use it? Make sure that you know what taxes you must pay, as social enterprises pay tax.
- You can download the business plan template in Russian here.
3. The operations of your social enterprise must correspond to the objectives and values you have stated. Otherwise, you may undermine your customers' trust.
4. The goods or services you sell should not be of inferior quality compared to those offered by your competitors. The same is true for the price: it should not be significantly lower or higher than the current market prices for similar goods or services.
5. Make sure that you distinguish your voluntary activities and your core project. If to engage in social entrepreneurship, you should do that in earnest: you should know what you engage in and have a weighted vision for two or three years ahead and a strategy to achieve your goals.
6. If you intend to set up a social enterprise in the production sphere, you need to take into account any certification requirements and make sure you know what documents are needed to manufacture your product. Prior to launching production, manufacture a pilot batch in order to get friends' opinions and make good any possible failures. Only then should you prepare for certification.
7. In the first place, you need to understand how far you are ready to go to fulfil your idea. You should understand clearly how much of your own funds you are ready to invest in your social enterprise, without restricting yourself or your family, and whether you are ready to work for a year without profit. If all these issues are carefully considered, social entrepreneurs say you shouldn't fear anything because everything will be alright.
8. Self-development and professional development of your employees is crucial.
9. Don't try to help everyone who needs help. Focus on a specific problem.
10. Always monitor changes in laws. Legal ignorance may result in serious difficulties and increase risk.
11. If possible, before launching your social enterprise, take courses or training in business planning, finance and accounting, human resources, and marketing.
12. If possible, work with a mentor to acquire knowledge of and experience in social entrepreneurship. A mentor may be a functioning social entrepreneur, participants in an acceleration programme, or experts from the commercial sector.