The Plunkett Foundation has written a blog piece for the Countryside Alliance, offering some top tips on how to set up your own community business. You can read thier blog post below as well as follow their social media channels.
Community businesses offer so much to the people they serve and in doing so are enriching the lives of those who use them. That is a story the Plunkett Foundation is encountering more often than ever, an increasing number of groups turn to community businesses as a solution to the problems them face - especially in rural areas.
Today community businesses offer much more than the basic services of, for example, a shop or a pub. Such community-owned and run businesses frequently provide an essential space to address wider social and community problems such as helping those vulnerable to poverty, health issues, isolation and loneliness. As the national experts, the Plunkett Foundation exists to help and support groups in tackling these challenges through our tried and tested model. Businesses as diverse as bakeries, woodlands, farms and even a distillery are now community-owned.
For 100 years Plunkett has been helping communities take control of assets and services that are important to them. The charity supports communities that are setting up and running a community business, and by increasing awareness and accessibility aims to extend the impact of community businesses to rural communities across the UK. Community businesses can encounter a unique set of challenges, so here are Plunkett's top 10 tips to guide you along the way.
1. Engage your community
As simple as it sounds, the first step in setting up a community business is to get the community involved. Once the founder-member committee has been created, then questionnaires and surveys are a good place to start getting other people's views and ideas.
2. Get in touch with Plunkett Foundation
Once you have an initial idea about what community business you would like to create, then it is a great idea to get in touch with the Plunkett Foundation. Plunkett can provide information, advice and financial support.
3. Hold a public meeting to update community on questionnaire and elect a committee
This is an opportunity to engage the local community by updating them on your plans, and encourage people to get involved. You will need the elect a management committee which will take on specific roles and take the lead in setting up the community businesses.
4. Become a Plunkett Foundation Member
Your Plunkett Foundation membership will give you enhanced access to support from Plunkett's team and specialist advisors. Alongside becoming part of a national network, Plunkett membership offers supplier discounts, a free 'Health Check' and invitations to training and networking events.
5. Select a suitable legal structure
Community businesses need to adopt a recognised legal structure in order to trade. The Plunkett Foundation promotes Community Benefit Society (CBS) which is a democratic model of community ownership where one share equals one vote.
6. Create a Business Plan
A business plan will define your aims and objectives, and Plunkett can provide templates and help to identify what you want the community business to offer, particularly in relation to the social benefits for your community.
7. Raise required level of finance
As well as engaging your community in local fundraising, you can also look to loans, grants and community share schemes to raise your capital.
8. Identify and purchase your premises
Community businesses can set up in a range of premises; new build, existing premises, village halls, the local pub, places of worship or even sheds and shipping containers.
9. Comply with the latest regulations and legislation
All community businesses must be compliant with legal requirements and best practice trading processes. It is important that these are set up in time for your opening, and that you stay up-to-date throughout.
10. Open for trading
Celebrate and congratulate everyone involved. Setting up and running a community business is hard work, so reward and recognition is vital.
Find out more: www.plunkett.co.uk
Get in touch: email@example.com or 01993 810730
Facebook: Plunkett Foundation
For £20 a year, become an individual supporter member and help us to help rural community businesses: www.plunkett.co.uk/becoming-a-member