Sharing by Mr Ronald Low, Chairperson & Founding Member, Istoria Co-operative Singapore Ltd
Socialpreneurship is a challenging
journey to embark on. It is made harder by the very structure that the
co-operative needs to have ie 5 ordinary members in the Committee of
Management. It used to be 10! Humans as we know are the hardest to work with,
even in pairs. Whether its parent to child, girlfriend and boyfriend and
between spouses, friction often occur for many reasons. Personally, I feel that
the ego of an individual is often a major cause of this conflicts. Different
stakeholders often have different viewpoints on a particular issue and it’s
very tough to resolve since it involves compromising oneself. When it cannot be
resolved, it often leads to personal attacks.
Thus at the early stage of any
start-up, the human resources need to be aligned and when it is not, decisive
actions have to be taken before the toxicity spreads like a cancer. This is in
addition to the need to grow the revenue of the business and balance it with
the social mission, as co-operatives are regulated social enterprises. They are
often misunderstood as charities, which they are not. To do good, the
co-operative needs to do well as they cannot be dependent on donations.
It is now the start of the 3rd year in 2021 and having only assumed the leadership of the collective in mid of 2020, there are many important lessons that I have picked up along the way and thus decided to put it down in writing, for the purpose of sharing. …juz a couple of points 🙂
Evolution is so necessary in today’s
disruptive environment. We are not talking about the products / services that
we sell but also how we sell them. Businesses need to develop something that
had never been done before to be successful and often a minor adjustment in the
strategy and improvement in the product is all that is needed. Take photography
courses as an example. It can’t get more real than this, since the collective
is in this business segment. Face to face courses were popular years ago and
there was serious money to be made. But with the advent of YouTube, you can
learn the basics of photography in the comfort of your home and spend zero
dollars. So how?
There must be value add to potential
clients and consumers to motivate them to buy. Are there intrinsic benefits and
reasons to consume, that a seller has failed to identify? Consumers are humans
and we constantly evolve, in terms of needs and wants. Sellers have to be
sensitive to that.
2. Pilot & Iterations
When you are first starting out, you
will have many ideas that you want to try out. You have your internal
discussions on SWOTS, market positioning and strategies etc. However, most of
it remain as it is, theory.
It is important to test out a few
ideas as a collective and this acts as a hedge, in the event that 1 or more of
the ideas actually fail. Basic rule, brainstorm a quick way to put together the
most basic form of a product(s) to send to potential customers. You need to do
this as the business environment is constantly changing. When you roll out the
product, it is real time information on how successful the product might be in
the market versus the various assumptions that you put on paper. With the
market info provided, it allows to fine tune your product offering so that
demand is actualised. Remember this, no matter how good the quality of your
product is and the market doesn’t demand it, it is an useless product. Period.
Think for the present and be flexible
old school method was to have a 3-5 years business plans or strategy. That was
good for a time long gone. The world is
not revolving any more, it is spinning out of synch with so much
is advisable to have plans as they are road-maps. But
focus on the short terms and immediate future. I usually plan for 3-6
months and a year, depending on the situation.
No point crafting long term plans as it will lose its relevance as the
environment changes and we need to be flexible and adapt.
the last 2 years, I had to change the business focus due to changes in the
competitors’ offering, disruption in human resources etc. Once you catch a
wave, ride it and look for the next wave. Be nimble.
Work Sufficient and Play More
often hear of stories of entrepreneurs working 24/7 because they are so
passionate about their business or are simply hungry for success. I personally do not agree to that as it leads
to burnout. Without rest and play, the
heart, mind and soul will not last the journey till you find success.
sacrifice family, social life, health and fun!
This can help clear your mind so you’ll make better decisions or arrive
at realizations that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
#collaborate #cooperate #teamwork #positivevibes #harmonybreedsprosperity