Goal#1: Create a business plan for an energy company
Before I get to goal #1, my goal #0.5 is to assess the feasibility of starting an energy company that could grow to scale. I need to have an informed idea of what it would take before I can decide whether I feel that I’m willing and/or able to go any further.
So then, based on the results of the initial assessment, I will determine whether my goal of developing a formal business plan for the venture is worth pursuing (i.e. whether it would be worth the investment additional time, research, and resources to prepare a formal business plan).
As I mentioned in my video, I have very mixed feelings about my day job. I’m not sure that this is the space to go into details about why and how the systems that frame the context of my work with nonprofit business support providers and CDFIs are fundamentally broken, but in short, I will say that our work does little to fundamentally challenge the reality that many of the women and minority-owned businesses that we serve are not profitable, cannot grow to scale, lack access to capital and real estate, do not set up their businesses in ways that promote community wealth building, etc.
Through my work, I am complicit in abetting and perpetuating the broken systems and status quo manifested in the outcomes that I just described. My motivation for wanting to start an energy company-and, as a first step, achieve this goal- is that I feel deeply that it’s not enough to say that I wish for an alternative; I have to build the alternative and/or support others who are building it.
To be honest, I would LOVE to ride someone else’s coattails on this. But where is that someone with a vision and commitment to trying this to be found?
In the absence of having identified him/her yet, I can only take it upon myself to satisfy 1) my curiosity about whether this is feasible and 2) my desire to create the reality which I wish to see.
Me. I can easily be held back by “what ifs” or “I can’ts”. However, I feel that this 6-week incubator is the perfect opportunity to put my doubt, fear, analysis paralysis and all of the other junk that tends to hold me back aside to allow my values, imagination, curiosity, and intuition to lead me towards my goals.
Time. It takes time- sacrificing one of the most valuable and seemingly scarce goods that I have- to do the necessary research to draft the first informal assessment and even more to do the formal business plan. Am I committed enough to silence my fears and doubts and sacrifice time to do the work?
Skills and Knowledge Required
- Knowledge of existing models for such ventures and of other possibilities that deviate from what’s been done before
- An understanding of the technology and how one builds/manages an energy company. What is the required infrastructure? Knowledge? Technology? What is the potential profitability and sustainability of such a venture?
- Long term: the ability to motivate others to join me as partners and investors
People & Groups
People and groups who could help me along the way towards this goal are:
- My CPA cohort members
- My friends Ale and Yannick
- The network of local TA and resource providers that I manage through my day job
Plan of Action
- Clearly outline the components that I need to cover in my feasibility assessment
- Create a list of people that I need to talk to + reach out to them (Jonathan, Carrie, and Felipe are already on the list )
- Create a list of books/articles that I need to read for research purposes
- Identify which TA providers in my network would be most helpful to coach me along through the process, depending on the results of the feasibility analysis
Deadline for Achievement
- The deadline for the initial feasibility assessment is in 5 weeks (the end of this program).
- The deadline for the formal business plan, should it come to that is… maybe Spring 2020? It will depend on which TA provider I need to work with.
Goal#2: Plant Seeds of Interest about the CPA Model
My goal is to transform expectations around how and why businesses operate. For me, that looks like aiming to model a different way of doing business at scale by actually building a business (as in, goal #1). It also looks like talking with other socially-minded folks to consider how they can use business as a vehicle to advance their missions in ways that are more financially sustainable than grants and donations.
In practice, this goal looks like me having conversations with x number of community activists, people in my network through work, and/or influencers about CPA’s model and maybe other models.
I get to plant seeds of interest and inspire leaders to do something without actually having to take the lead on doing the something myself.
Skills & Knowledge Required
- Charisma to motivate others
- How to make my message compelling
- Who are the right people to reach out to?
People & Groups
- Folks from organizations in my network such as the Center for Community- Based Enterprise, Wayne State University’s Social Enterprise Certificate program, etc.
- My co-worker Jamii
Plan of Action
- Refine my list of 3-5 people with whom I’d like to share the information
- Gather enough information to actually make a useful presentation/give substantive information and insights
- Seek out speaking opportunities and/or invite the people on my list to coffee, etc.
Deadline for Achievement
- Within the month following the end of the Incubator, I want to have scheduled my coffees and applied to speaking opportunities to share the information that I’ve gained.