If setting up and running a business holds a strong appeal, but raising the necessary funds to do so is a problem, establishing a community business could provide the answer.
Community businesses are commercially-run enterprises whose profits are ploughed back into the community to create new jobs or help fund other projects. So if your sole aim in running a business is to become a millionaire, this is not the route for you. If, however you want to earn a decent living in a commercial environment with a socially-minded focus, this could be what you are looking for.
Almost any venture can be set up as a community business, providing it caters to the needs of an identified ‘community’ (ie any group of people sharing a common bond). Without being able to justify it in those terms it will be difficult, if not impossible, to raise the necessary funds. None of the start-up costs need come from your own pocket. Instead, community businesses are funded by grants from the government, national lottery, European Social Fund, corporate funders, local councils, and individual grant-making trusts.
To make a successful bid you need to demonstrate how the business would be answering the needs of the community, and that it could be run successfully along commercial lines. Those projects which clearly show they can become self-financing in due course are more likely to be favoured. All will be judged on how professionally they will be run and the credentials of those involved.
Cafes, nurseries, road weather forecasting, publishing, manufacturing, shops, and contract cleaning are among the wide range of community businesses which have been successfully set up throughout the country. Get together with some like-minded others and see what ideas you can come up with for a community business for your area.
This will appeal if
– You want to help improve your local area.
– You have management or other skills to bring to the business. You have a good understanding of your ‘community’.
– You enjoy working collaboratively.
– Fat-cat salaries are less important to you than doing a worthwhile job.
– You do not have to have money of your own to set up an enterprise.
– You will be making a positive contribution towards alleviating social and/or economic pressures.
– Provides an opportunity to create your own paid employment and make use of existing skills.
– Profits are ploughed back into the community – not into your own pocket.
– Fund-raising can be time-consuming.
– Driving a community business forward can be demanding
– These largely depend on the community which is being served by the business and how much profit is generated by the enterprise. Either the business itself could expand to create more jobs or generate finance to fund new projects.