We believe in starting small and testing ideas and even people. That is why we support those developing prototypes and encourage people to gather experience running small scale projects.
A case study – Safe Haven
The dream was to develop a social enterprise offering supported employment for people with learning disabilities. The idea included making hand-crafted items from the natural raw materials grown on the premises. Umm to do this required obtaining premises and how do you fund them before you have an income.
The deadlock was broken by starting a prototype. This has proved an interesting experience. A partner was found who was willing to offer support in terms of premises. This enabled craft sessions to be set up one afternoon a week. The people who attended the craft sessions where not quite the ones it was envisaged that this project would serve.
God’s Lily Training has provided support for Safe Haven from before it was launched. The one thing that Safe Haven has proved is that prototypes or pilots are an essential. If the concept had not been tested then it would not have been possible to determine where the real need was in terms of providing activities for people with learning difficulties.
If the money had been available to invest then it could easily have been used to develop an activity centre that simply did not meet the needs of those who attended. The finer points of working with those in wheelchairs would not have been discovered. It is the little things like the strength of the fittings that keep the toilet seat in place or the position of the legs on the tables that make all the difference.
Thankfully some thought had gone into adapting the premises to make them accessible to wheelchairs. However, there is no substitute for being given a practical test. Similarly with the activities offered. The initial ideas proved to be unsuitable so have needed to be adapted. In the beginning, it was flying by the seat of your pants.
Without this test, it could all have gone horribly wrong. Safe Haven would just have become one more casualty on the list of businesses that did not survive its first year.
It is not just testing the business idea but the people involved as well
Starting small enables people to learn the skills that they need to run the business as it grows. A business cannot grow or even survive if the people involved in it are not the people that they need to be to enable it to survive. It sounds almost too easy to be true but experience proves that someone cannot survive as a manager unless they behave like a manager. In other words, they have to be the person they need to be to become a manager.
Becoming the person you need to be to make a business successful does not happen over night. It can take time. How do you learn? Small projects also act as apprentice schemes. A small project gives people the opportunity to grow into the people they need to be to succeed.