Business planning and market research
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.
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.