Community Entrepreneurs forge new business ideas – day 3

Day three of the Community Resource Entrepreneurs programme – created by Tree Shepherd, LSx, and LCRN, and supported by the Small Business Research Initiative.

Day 3 – Business clinic and MOT

Our groups are really starting to form their ideas now. They used the last week or so to good advantage to develop their vehicles and to research their markets. Six of them are even forming a loose bus-like co-operative.

So the day 3 business clinic was the perfect opportunity for our groups to get some more bespoke advice and guidance on their particular business idea.
Pulling together a social enterprise
Several members of the co-op arrived in the morning. They had clearly taken onboard Colin’s parting advice from the previous session and had agreed the roles that each of them would play within the co-operative. In this session, Simon from DesignIT asked them some tough questions about exactly what the motivation of the co-op was. Were they all agreed on its main objective and could they all “sing from the same hymn sheet” when they went door-knocking? Over a period of an hour or so the defining nature of the co-op started to shine through from the sometimes contradictory mist of ideas that the group had. It would be committed to serving the needs of the local community and would work hard to understand those needs as they changed.

At first glance the “needs of the community” may appear quite vague but as we honed down on how the group would know what the needs were and how they might change over time, the phrase started to take on a real clarity. Firstly, it would mean that the group would need a very open structure and be very consultative. Secondly, they realised that with the resources that they had they would need to fuse the community research with the main revenue raising effort – i.e. they would have to collect metals from the community they wished to serve at the same time as they established what the community wanted most.

With this established, it was important not to lose any momentum. Colin worked with the co-op to agree some short-term trials that the group could put into practice and from which they could learn. With the support of Ben from LSx they rapidly put together a short shopping list of the essential protective clothing they would need to put their plan into action.

Next in for the clinic was Abi who surprised everyone by announcing that she now planned to start something herself and, even better, had already started collecting! In the beginning Abi had come to find out more information but now she was keen to start collecting aluminium foil from a variety of contacts that she already had. The clinic for her had now become quite operational which was so exciting.

Steve from Lewisham had also made good progress and he had thought through all the aspects of our outline business plan template. With a session at the clinic he was able to precisely define his market and had gained a real insight into how his overall aim of increasing community engagement could be served by his recycling initiative.
Recycling can be fun
So at the end of the day 3 clinic all our participants had made real progress towards getting their business vehicles on the road.

Day 4 would provide an acid test. This is the day when they meet up-and-coming managers from Sony Music, who would test their ideas and help them to create a message that would really differentiate them in the market.