What makes a good idea?
Coming up with ideas for a community business isn’t difficult – but how do you choose the right one?
This important decision can make the difference between the success and failure of your enterprise. There are two essential questions you need to ask when starting a community business.
- Is my idea a viable business proposition?
- Is it a project that will benefit my community?
If you take a look at the exciting, innovative Village SOS case studies you will notice that they answer yes to both these questions.
Community enterprises are all individual and you must choose a form that best suits your project but most businesses of this nature share the following characteristics:
- community led – local communities are the best agents of their own renewal
- a self-help ethos – avoiding dependency on local authorities but working in partnership where this can add value
- social purpose – the profits are reinvested back into the community
- community ownership of assets like building and land
- any project that will create opportunities, revitalise your village and enhance pride in rural areas has the potential for success.
It is important to consider the resources available – think creatively about the land, buildings and skills within your village – and if there is a genuine need for your business.
Discuss your ideas with others. They may have valuable input and it will help to gauge the most popular suggestions. Use the Village SOS forum where villages like yours will be talking about their ideas.
Strengths and weaknesses
So you've come up with an idea for a community business but how do you know if it's any good? Consider doing a SWOT analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses (internal factors), opportunities and threats (external factors).
Get your project group together and draw a clear diagram, including a section for each of the four categories. It's a vital tool to help you spot potential pitfalls - and appropriate solutions. Be realistic about what you hope to achieve. Ask yourself some tough questions:
- what are the benefits to this project?
- what the downsides?
- identify potential future problems
- how can these be overcome?
This is the time to be brutal. What is good and bad about the idea? What don't you have? What do you do well? What resources are available? What could you offer that might be cheaper, easier, more convenient or faster? How will you deal with rival business? Use this as an opportunity to have a plan of action in place to counter possible difficulties. For more information, visit:
To talk through your idea, give the Village SOS Advice Line a call on 0845 434 9123.