In my last post we stressed the most important criterion a social enterprise must meet, namely that it is consistent with and supports mission.
Assuming that this is indeed the case, it must now meet the second criterion: it must have market viability.
Key questions that will need to be answered:
- Is there really a market for this enterprise?
- Who will the customers be?
- Is it a growing market?
- What’s the competitive landscape?
- What are the barriers to entry (e.g. high operating and/or marketing costs, expensive technology, other)?
- How will your SE differentiate itself in the market in ways that are important to your target customers beyond the altruistic appeal of the enterprise?
The good news is that a tremendous amount of this information can be accessed freely online as part of your overall market research strategy, which should incorporate the following:
Two research methods, simply stated:
- Primary research involves you and your team collecting information through surveys or interviews with potential customers and others with firsthand knowledge of your target market.
- See: Primary Research Purdue
- Secondary research consists of data already compiled and organized for you, available online or through your local library. Examples of secondary information include reports and studies by government agencies, trade associations or other businesses within your target market.
- See: Secondary Research Entrepreneur.com
- Collaborate on research tasks by creating a small team of interested staff members and (ideally) an engaged board member to analyze all of the data and reach a consensus on the SE model’s potential market viability.
- Ask an independent professional to assist in creating or editing your primary research surveys or interview questions. This person can also serve as a sounding board for your interpretations of research findings.
Stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll take a closer look at the third critical success factor: Differentiating the SE model.
And please post your comments or questions!