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Show Me the Money – Solutions to the Top Challenges of Growing Your Social Enterprise

This guest blog post was written by Gerrad Oishi, who will be leading the Show Me the Money – Solutions to Challenges of Growing Your Social Enterprise session at our Enterprising Spirit Conference.

There is a certain elation that comes from taking an idea for a social enterprise and piloting it. Proving you were right and that there really is an opportunity to generate revenue while advancing a social mission. It feels like you’ve summited a mountain.

Yet the elation is often short lived, for as soon as you get to this point the next challenge emerges, ‘where do you go from here?’ Suddenly it feels like your efforts have only gotten you to the base camp of Mount Everest. A bigger climb awaits…

Welcome to the growth phase.

If I were to distill the top challenges of this phase, they are:

Where do I get the money?  Who is interested in financially supporting your enterprise and what are they looking for?

How do I get my Board to support this?   You have a Board of Directors that is well versed in the social cause but less familiar with the needs of business.  How do you acquire the board support you need to grow?

How do I build my customer base?  Is there an alternative to expensive advertising campaigns?  Can partnerships achieve this?

How do I staff this idea?  Do you start small and re-assign your fundraiser to look after business marketing?  Do you find a way to hire dedicated staff?

(And you need to achieve all of the above while ensuring you are onside with CRA)

I am a big fan of learning from those who have climbed the mountain before me.  In this case, people who have found a way to raise the money, get the staff, attract the customers and engage their Board.

I am excited to be hosting a panel discussion with David LePage, Bill Young, Tonya Surman, and Derek Gent. This group of experts comes from across Canada, and have been involved in some of the biggest and most successful social enterprises in Canada.

In the first portion of our session I’ve asked each of our panelists to share some solutions to the above key challenges.  Then I want to create the opportunity for audience members to tap into this brain trust and ask their own questions on how to grow their social enterprises.

Bring your questions and let’s figure out how to grow your business.  Look forward to seeing you at the Enterprising Spirit Conference on November 17th.

Gerrad Oishi

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