Social Entrepreneurs play a big role in changing the way people live their lives. Whether it is the people they work with or the causes they espouse, social enterprises are game changers and very welcome in today’s complex world.
Over the past few years, as business consultants, we have met several brilliant people who have set up firms for the greater good. Whether they are spin offs from well funded foundations or a personal dream, all of them have a great vision, dedicated founders and amazing product/s or services. Often, the products being offered by such firms are made with love and address a latent need of the consumer. However in-spite of all this positive energy, some are unable to scale up the enterprise and hence society doesn’t get the full benefit of these powerful ideas.
A quick review of the situation reveals five last mile challenges frequently faced by Social Entrepreneurs. By addressing them, firms with a positive brand promise can scale up to maximize their key social objectives.
1. Lack of a ground up business plan
Social enterprises need to have well thought business plans which help plan their fund flow and organization design. Investments in time, effort and materials are expensive but necessary for growth. By creating and then following a ground up business plan – firms can work towards for profitable growth.
Social entrepreneurs in our experience have a strong expertise in specific area. Working with a marketing, retail or process consultant helps such firms scale up. These short term, key objective driven resources provide real world inputs and help ensure the basics are covered.
2. Lack of Awareness amongst the general public
Most firms of this nature are well known among folk who are already like minded and perhaps socially conscious. However the broader population, who is not actively involved in the cause or belief but wants to buy the product or service, is not being targeted through a well thought out communication plan.
The problem is further compounded by the firms using mostly digital and social advertising for promotion. Affinity advertising helps gain initial awareness but will not lead to significant new consumers of the product/service.
3. Need for a Proper Sales Team
No matter how amazing the product or service, unless there is a dedicated sales team to push it, it won’t sell. Very few products click with the consumer overnight and become a viral success. In the absence of such luck, it is best to hire the right sales folk.
This can be an expensive proposition and struggling firms working for a bigger cause often shy away from spending money on resources. However in our experience , having a dedicated sales team whose sole job is to deliver sales ensures someone is chasing numbers and invariably funds itself post a few months.
4. Investing in Branding Elements
An attractive website, pretty pack design and relevant advertising goes a long way in selling a product or service that already has a lot going for it. This is a necessary one-time expense.
Hiring a brand consultant and working with a creative team that also believes in the cause goes a long way. People are used to buying brands promoted by MNC corporations with deep pockets and smart marketing gurus. By ignoring this aspect of the purchase decision firms make an easily avoidable but big mistake.
5. Process Management and planning for growth
Firms that offer good products and services usually grow and reach an in-flexion point. Unfortunately it is here that the need for hiring right people, processes and technology comes in. Several firms who have not planned for growth or have no proper process for evaluating their performance end up missing the bus.
We have all heard of a wonderful firm doing good work but limited to a specific area. It would help if the founders took a leaf out of MNC firms who invest in fantastic processes and plan for growth. This allows them the luxury of growing in a systematic manner.
The increasing trend of expertise available on tap through consulting firms & freelance resources give flexibility in manpower resourcing.
In summation :
Social Enterprises play a key role in our country. They help alleviate poverty, bring about hope and provide people access to a brighter future. By learning from MNCs who have grown global empires on the bedrock of a few strong business decisions, our good Samaritans can avoid common pitfalls.
The need to focus on People, Process and Technology is becoming a critical part of any growing business. The same is true for social enterprises as well. In today’s world such enterprises don’t need to hire long term resources. They can easily tap into a large base of experts who are willing to put their skills and expertise on specific projects especially for a good cause.
For your Information :
Centric Brand Advisors offers pro-bono branding advice to Social Entrepreneurs. We also provide affordable retail and process management services to firms in this space to assist in scaling up & reaching a larger group of users.
For more information please visit our site http://www.centricbrandadvisors.com/