How do you know when your project or business is ready to scale up? What are the common problems of trying to scale your social innovation? Overspending, scaling too early, or not being properly prepared are just few of the common issues when to trying to scale. Below, 8 successful social innovators share their stories about how they managed to scale up.
The first way was through collaborations. They say it takes a village to raise a baby and there isn’t a bigger truth about this. Don’t be afraid to partner with other organisations and share the success. Recognise the unique added value that you can bring on the table and keep on developing it. Do not be afraid to try things no one else has done in the past. Be ready to fail again and again and again. Trust your gut but also be open-minded and listen to feedback. Receive all rejections with a smile, and never never give up. The people in your network will be your most valuable resource to scale. The second main way of scaling our social innovation was by investing in our Social Capital. All this positive outcome that was coming for our team and the work we were doing. From brainstorming and supporting all those innovative ideas we had, the information we were gathering from our research, the continuous effort to identify future opportunities. This love for our vision was creating a sweet equity for us, of being able to know the whole sector and the ecosystem better than anyone else in order to pull the right strings to make things happen!
Designing the contribution model in the way we did, naturally scales the support. The more customers contribute, the more people we are able to enrol in pension policies. If we happen to plateau at a certain point, the coverage will consolidate there until we are able to resume growing, which protects the business from becoming overextended. It can also be a signal that we need to step up or change our efforts to encourage customers to contribute if something isn’t working.
One thing we found essential was to develop our local network. This includes like-minded businesses and impact-oriented organizations. It is also powerful to be involved with both businesses and public authorities, especially when your social innovation is aligned with a Sustainable Development Goal. Another tip would be to keep learning about business creation. That’s what we are doing as part of the Business Plan Writing Circle for immigrant entrepreneurs. Ben has also just started a part-time Executive MBA, to strengthen Rethink2gether.
I would look to identify groups that already have close working relationships rather than trying to bring disparate groups together so there is a natural scaling path and focus efforts here to get this part right for piloting. I would also look to simplify all of the messaging used. Reading through my own article it introduces a lot of unfamiliar language at a community level, for example ‘eco-system’, ‘pathways’, ‘frameworks’, as well introducing a new technology and to top it off talking about ‘isolation’ and ‘inclusion’.
To be able to scale the survcoin in line with the size of the behavioural changes – namely footprint reductions – that lead to significant décarbonisation, all that was needed in terms of scalability was a blockchain infrastructure designed to accompany the wide adoption of survcoin as an alternative currency. Fortunately, this wasn’t too much of a technological challenge. The scaling challenge lay more in the ability to create proof mechanisms that are not too intrusive and at the same reliable enough rather than being able to register transactions denominated in survcoin.
Why reach out to companies? I usually say, ‘I just need to be given five minutes with the decision maker’. He’ll give me half an hour and I’ll make him want to be part of this story because the legacy is not mine. Because we all have 1/7000000000 of good responsibility to be able to do something for the world.
To improve our project, we participated in the contest Made In Research 2016, held by the business incubator of the University of Turin, aimed at supporting innovative ideas In the social and entrepreneurial field. Our participation in the Contest was an opportunity for growth, to meet with other social professionals, who were also pursuing their innovative projects. In my opinion the fundamental thing is to believe his sounds and give himself the possibilities of making them real. Obviously, you need to always study the market well and make sure that you actually respond to a need.
Be very clear about the culture of the organisation. A boss of my girlfriend said, ‘People are typically fired for their attitude, not for not knowing.’ Recruiting attitude is a very scarce asset in our country and we should take advantage of it. This has to be more to do with the education system than with people, but people live with it (…) The other thing is to take care of the team – growth is always painful, never simple (…) Having a good network of counsellors is very helpful, people who have a lot of experience but who are not full of a priori (…) It is important to have an aligned, motivated and lifelong learning team.
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