The Golden Rule – Putting First things First

I guess the reason that you are reading this is that you have an idea for a project or business.  I would then probably guess that the first thing that 80-90% of you who are planning a project or social enterprise are concerned about is money.  Those of you who want to deliver a project would prefer if someone else paid for it and those of you who want to start a social enterprise would like some start up/seed funding.

I would then guess that the majority of project and social enterprise ideas of those reading this would be:

  • A youth project
  • A foodbank
  • A community café
  • A charity shop
  • A furniture recycling project
  • Managed office/workspace for your new church building

What’s the Problem?

These are all good and noble ideas but what do you think the problem is?

What churches tend to do is see a project or enterprise that is successfully being delivered by another church and then replicate it.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  It’s great to share best practice. The thing is, everybody ends up doing it and supply and demand shows it that there is only a finite space within the marketplace.

So, back to first things first

Before you start to put lots of energy into developing your idea, find out if there really is a need/opportunity for your project/enterprise.  This brings us back to “the money.”  No funding organisation is going to give you money for a project where you cannot demonstrate the need for it with real time data and no funding body is going to give you money for an enterprise unless you can demonstrate the market demand for it again with real time data.

3 Actions to get you started

  • If your project or enterprise is location based and by that we mean if your intended beneficiaries/customers are located in a specific geographical area (I would suspect that this is 99% of you), then find out what organisations currently deliver services/products the same or similar to yours in that area. What services/products they currently deliver, how they deliver, how beneficiaries/customers obtain their services/products, how they function and how effective they are.
  • Find out and identify the demographics of your intended beneficiaries/customers. What are their proportional age, ethnic, faith, economic, health, educational, environmental and other social ranges and issues?
  • Identify if there is a gap between the beneficiary/customer need/desire and what service/products organisations you identified are delivering. If there is a gap then consult with your intended beneficiaries/customers in order to find out if they would actually use/buy your intended services/products.

This exercise will enable you to clearly demonstrate that your project/enterprise will deliver a service/product currently not or scarcely being delivered that meets identified needs/desires of your target beneficiary group/market and that they would use/buy your services/products.

You may have a great project/business idea but if no-one needs or wants it then that is all that it should remain, an idea.