Busi­ness plan­ning and mar­ket re­search

Element - - Solar -

The busi­ness plan­ning phase of a start-up is the spring­board from which a so­cial en­ter­prise or con­scious busi­ness may or may not be ac­cepted into an in­cu­ba­tor pro­gramme, so it de­serves a lot of thought and ef­fort. It’s the phase where pro­to­types may be cre­ated to test proof of con­cept, le­gal struc­tures and re­cruit­ing are con­sid­ered, pos­si­ble fund­ing sources are re­searched and iden­ti­fied. If a num­ber of en­trepreneurs are in­volved in con­cep­tu­al­i­sa­tion, it may be worth us­ing cloud based soft­ware for busi­ness plan­ning and de­ci­sion mak­ing. The lat­ter is well sup­ported by New Zealand so­cial en­ter­prise start-up Loomio (see pg 15), which has de­vel­oped soft­ware for col­lab­o­ra­tive de­ci­sion mak­ing based on that which evolved from the Oc­cupy move­ment. It’s a demo­cratic and trans­par­ent sys­tem which es­tab­lishes a prece­dent for the type of many-stake­holder de­ci­sion mak­ing pro­cesses com­mon to so­cial en­ter­prises.

Dur­ing this phase it is worth con­sid­er­ing and iden­ti­fy­ing po­ten­tial part­ners in the sup­ply chain, and gaug­ing their in­ter­est in work­ing with you.

When the plan is pre­pared, put it to­gether pro­fes­sion­ally, both in hard copy and dig­i­tal for­mats. It’s handy to have a 90-sec­ond video that sums up the is­sue, the idea and com­mer­cial so­lu­tion and how it could work – the dig­i­tal ver­sion of an el­e­va­tor pitch.

MAR­KET RE­SEARCH

Jac­que­line Ire­land, from re­search firm Col­mar Brun­ton, be­gan the ‘Bet­ter Busi­ness Bet­ter World’ re­port – the largest and most de­fin­i­tive lon­gi­tu­di­nal study con­ducted into sus­tain­able con­sumer at­ti­tudes and behaviour – in 2009.

1000 peo­ple were in­ter­viewed last year, with a topline ob­ser­va­tion that ‘con­science con­sumers’ is a rapidly ex­pand­ing group, par­tic­u­larly in the younger gen­er­a­tions of con­sumers. In­deed, within the next four years Gen Y will rep­re­sent 24% of the pop­u­la­tion.

High on the list of con­cerns of New Zealan­ders were con­ser­va­tion, un­sus­tain­able use of re­sources, and in­equal­ity.

Al­most two in three peo­ple are “will­ing to pay a bit more” for prod­ucts which are sus­tain­ably and eth­i­cally pro­duced. It also ap­pears that peo­ple want more in­for­ma­tion about prod­ucts so they can make more re­spon­si­ble pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions – in the case of Gen Y 94% of re­spon­dents want that in­for­ma­tion. How­ever it’s clear that ed­u­ca­tion is lack­ing, with two in three un­able to say which of New Zealand’s brands are the green­est.

When it comes to buy­ing food, 81% of re­spon­dents said they wanted lo­cally pro­duced food, with 75% say­ing they wanted 100% nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents. 50% of re­spon­dents want food that is palm oil-free. Or­ganic and Fair­trade prod­ucts have seen a huge in­crease in pop­u­lar­ity. All of the gains in th­ese ar­eas are even more marked when fo­cus­ing on Gen Y re­spon­dents, how­ever most of those same re­spon­dents don’t be­lieve they should have to pay more for sus­tain­able prod­ucts.

An up­date of this re­port is due out in Oc­to­ber 2014.

Jac­que­line Ire­land, from re­search firm Col­mar Brun­ton.

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