Alternative strategies to finance a social business

Having decided what is needed to establish or develop the enterprise you should ask yourselves whether it is necessary to have this in house with all the associated investment required or to out-source. 

Is the investment down to you at this stage? Do you really need to take on additional investment? Or would it be cheaper, less risky or a way of testing how effective future investment will be by sub-contracting to another business that either can supply or is willing to invest in themselves to supply you? Also, you may not be in a strong enough position to secure investment and will need to seek alternative strategies.

You should go back to examine your business aims. It may be that it is important to make sure that every opportunity is used to expand the size of the operation, either to achieve critical mass, allow for specialisation or to create jobs, but equally this is not a necessary truth. For example it often pays to have out-sourced work until it is proven beyond doubt that moving that function in house will save money.  This minimises investment risk and maximises the case to outside investors. Cost reduction through substitution of a currently externally provided service with one that is provided in-house is probably the easiest investment case to prove.

Another alternative is to look around for another small enterprise in a related field to work with, leaving a share of the investment to them.  The guiding principle here is that the job, the whole job, must get done and we must do what we are best at and can make a critical quality contribution to. It is not necessary that we do everything or retain absolute control over everything.   The principle of enterprising and co-operative rather than paranoid and competitive solutions is a big recommend. You do not have to grow the wheat, mill the flour and bake the bread if your real added value is in making the sandwich.

Similarly, do we need to buy it or is there a rental / lease option and have we done a cost / benefit analysis on the different options?