Raising capital for your social enterprise is one of the most commonly asked questions for millennials and others looking to get into a industry that supports the world while supporting their own growth. Now so vital to the growth of our communities, these social enterprises, no matter how strong their concepts, may never get off the ground without the right kind of support.
Enter finances. It’s always on the table, but rarely discussed. How do I support myself? How do I find funds for my business growth? So I’ve decided to compile a list of things that can help you get started.
1. Find and apply for an incubator or accelerator program that can help provide a stipend while you work to develop your business plan. These programs can also provide the opportunity to meet potential investors and receiving training from top industry leaders.
2. Look for someone to support your business directly, most commonly as an angel investor. Most startups can find these resources at regional business development offices and can help provide more information on collaborations for local businesses and the angel investors you’re seeking.
3. Publish your efforts on a Crowdfunding platform, such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or GoFundMe to help with public awareness. These are becoming a lot more influential and popular among individuals wanting to start a business with a social mission and backstory so that others are excited and willing to support them in getting their ideas off the ground. With a strong campaign and strategy, you could even receive more than intended!
4. Actively seek out a professional accountant before you take any venture capital money. Many firms have select accountants dedicated to advising startups and entrepreneurs in raising capital the right way.
5. Make sure to have a few trusted customers before investing to ensure you’re doing things the right way for people who value or need your services and/or product.
6. Prove that your business skills are as strong as your dedication to social mission. Then, make sure your work and logistics backs that up. Having knowledge in business concepts and legal language will play a big role in how investors perceive the work you’re doing and trust in your company.
7. Reach out to large companies to support your efforts through CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives. The key to getting this kind of corporate funding is finding the right business match, which means you should actively be seeking out one that aligns with your company’s mission and sector. This can be difficult, but worth patience and persistence.
8. Apply to be a part of a business pitch competition, typically organized by local incubators, businesses, or investors. These can provide additional revenue if you are voted top in the competition and give you some new ground and value rooted in your local community.
9. Seek out grants offered by charitable, philanthropic, and government organizations who don’t generally expect a financial return but rather are investing in the social outcome. Some organizations specialize in particular mission-focused visions while others focus on startups or a particular timeframe in a business’ growth.
10. Have strong proof of your own financial investment and growth thus far to show potential investors of your worth. No one will choose to invest in your business if is not viable financially, no matter how much they care about the overall impact you’re making in the community.
Remember, you have to WANT it. If you don’t fully invest in the business you’re looking to grow, how can you expect anyone else to do the same? You’ll need an extremely solid business plan and financials to get you started, but storytelling will always be your best friend, so make sure to come back to the heart of why you’re doing this to gain the respect and influence you need to let this beautiful vision grow!