Plans A and B

...for how we might be able to get this project done.

Plan A

Plan A is essentially an idealistic social experiment. However it pans out, we’ll learn something useful about how social networks really function...

To begin with, I start with my own social network to see if I can tap into the knowledge base of people I know, and hope the idea is compelling enough to convince them to pass it on to their friends and networks to find people they know who can offer knowledge or who might be up for getting involved. I listen and learn and spread responsibility with anyone who wants to be a part of this. I return the favour by making the project completely open and sharing everything I know about developing ideas and setting up enterprises. This blog is the first step.

Next I send out an email to the people I’ve already spoken to and know are open to the idea, and get their feedback. Then send out a mail to all my friends and hope they don’t mind the intrusion. I create a mailing list from the people who reply, followed by a Facebook group or cause or something similar to begin to build a Facebook network. At some point we extend this to a trial Facebook application and use it for updates and hopefully begin the first stages of understanding how the linkages could work.

Along the way we pool together our collective brain power, do the research and figure out the details. We build links and connections with real world youth organisations who would like to do something similar, but realistic can’t mobilise quickly enough and can’t easily afford the specialist skills needed. Maybe we can find some technical people to join the team and kick off the development of the site. Hopefully there are already volunteer developer networks that we can approach. We plan for social development and build the project in increments, and get the target volunteer network going. If it gets some degree of critical mass, we begin to look for revenue opportunities through advertising that helps the project become self-sustaining enough to fund its completion. Any excess could be fed back into organisations like the Bright Ideas Trust who are better set up to distribute funds to small enterprises in the community.

There is a risk of course that no one will care at all or that someone will simply steal the ideas we share, but the great thing about this approach is that it is win-win from the start because even if it all falls apart, the whole journey will have been captured and anything learnt open for reuse by other people who want to set up a social enterprise. And that in a nutshell, makes the case for Plan A.

Plan B

Any plan needs contingency and a fall-back.

If Plan A doesn’t get us far enough, we can always resort to creating a formal business plan and go looking for organisational support or funding. Plan B further validates Plan A because the process of working through it will have fleshed out the details and captured all the information needed to make the business case. There are enough revenue generating opportunities for this idea to be financially viable and I don’t imagine it will be difficult to find backing once we’ve cleared the groundwork. Plan B then involves finding and paying an organisation to code and manage the platform needed to run this project, and probably some kind out of outsourcing to keep cost down. We’re then looking at scaling, maintenance and maybe handing over to a national or global organisation that could keep the project alive well into the future.

I could spend longer on Plan B, but as a fall-back option, we only need to have covered its viability. Having done that in brief, I reckon there should be enough time to flesh out the details if it ever becomes a necessity.

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